Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: The Syrian Observatory has recently known that a rebel battalion kidnapped dozens of Kurdish civilians from cars transporting them on the Aleppo-A’frin road in Reef Aleppo. They released the women and children later and kept tens of men under detainment. Kurdish security forces released 15 rebel fighters detained earlier near a Kurdish village. Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: 20 Iraqi jihadists enter Syria and clashes between rebel fighters and al-Nusra front: al-Hasaka province: Kurdish sources confirmed that 20 young men from the Islamic Movement of Iraq, originally from Halabja city, entered the Syrian province for jihad. Clashes broke out between rebel fighters and jihadists from al-Nusra front yesterday in the al-Mahatta city of Seri Kanye (Ras al-A’in), reports indicate that one of the rebel commanders was killed and several were injured from both sides. Kurdish Defence Committees (YPG) strengthened their forces and military checkpoints in the areas and villages south of Karki Laki (M’abda). Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Aleppo province: A girl and child were killed and others wounded when the bus transporting them was targeted on the Aleppo-A’frin road. Suzanne Wahid aged 13, and Nesrin Ibrahim Ibrahim is 19 were both killed, and three others were injured.
The Deir Hafer town was bombarded by heavy machine guns from military helicopters. Regular forces took hold of the A’beida village in Reef al-Safira city and are trying to control the al-Shahid village in order to pave way for military reinforcements between the Khanaser town and the Ma’amel al-Difa’ (defence battalions). A rebel commander was killed by clashes with regular forces in the Mangh military airport of Reef Aleppo. Intermittent clashes took place between rebel and regular forces in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood of Aleppo city Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Shari’a Court of Saraqeb publicly lashes 2 civilians. Idlib province: The Shari’a court in the rebel held city of Saraqeb has condemned 2 civilians from the city to 40 and 50 lashes respectively, as punishment for alleged “moral vice”. The first victim, Ahmad al-Ra’i, was sentenced to 50 lashes for allowing his daughter to remarry before the shari’a prescribed limit of waiting 3 months after divorce. Since the shari’a court did not accept the marriage as legitimate, Mustafa Amno -the man Ahmad’s daughter got married to- was sentenced to 40 lashes as corporal punishment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT-xHZFBjmo Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Aleppo province: A man was shot by a regime sniper centralized near a school near the al-Malhab barrack in the Ziyara Hanan area of A’frin city, as he attempted to flee the area. The Liwa’ al-Tawhid battalion declared the neighbourhoods of al-Sheikh Khudur and al-Sakhour of Aleppo city military areas, accompanied with the dispersal of the battalion’s fighters. This came after members of al-Tawhid were kidnapped and 2 were summarily executed by the Ghuraba’ al-Sham battalion. Clashes broke out yesterday between fighters from the Liwa’ al-Tawhid and the Ghuraba’ al-Sham battalions near the al-Helwaniya square of Aleppo city. Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:: Aleppo province: A little girl was killed, and her sister wounded by shrapnel to the head, because a mortar shell fell on their house in the Ashrafiya neighbourhood of Aleppo. A rocket fell on the Haydariya roundabout, reports of injuries. Tanks are shelling the al-Zubeir street in the Salaheddin neighbourhood. Rebel fighters launched 5 rockets into the town of al-Nebel and Zahra’, which are inhabited by civilians who are Muslim Shi’a. Rebels used artillery to bombard the Mengh military airport; the airforce bombarded the area around the airport, reports of rebel injuries. Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Deir Ezzour province: A video leaked to the SOHR shows a leader from Jabhat al-Nusra executing 11 men in Reef Deir Ezzour. The leader/executioner states in the video that the Shar’ia court of Jabhat al-Nusra in the Eastern Area has ordered the execution “of these infidel soldiers for the massacres they committed in Syria”. The SOHR has been unable to verify the identities of the killed men, or whether they were in the armed forces or civilians. Nor has the SOHR been able to verify the date the murders took place. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cc-HC1CnJg&feature=youtu.be Read more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Hasakah province: Turkish armed forces shot and killed a man trying to cross to the safety of Turkish territory. The killed Syrian citizen tried to cross by the Alouk village, east of Ras al-Ein (Serikaniyeh) city
Homs province: regime forces continue to bombard the beseigen neighbourhoods of Homs with mortars and artillery shells; explosions were heard in the neighbourhoods. Regime forces stormed the village of Khirbat al-Soda, which is on the Homs-Houla road, causing several injuries. There are worrying reports from activists in the area who state that regime forces have summarily executed 13 people in the village, 3 of them women.
Hasakah province: Military helicopters bombarded parts of the towns of Tel Brak and Tel Hamis, causing material damage. Regime forces stationed in the Tartab base in Qamishli are using artillery to bombard Tel Hamis, no reports of casualties.
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The resolution, which is not binding, passed easily, although a similar one last year received more support.
Russia was fiercely opposed to the text, which it said was unbalanced and failed to address adequately atrocities allegedly committed by rebel groups.
The resolution was drafted by Arab states who have championed the rebels.Rosemary DiCarloUS deputy permanent representative at UN
Syria said the initiative went against the recent diplomatic efforts by the US and Russia to find a political solution to the two-year-old conflict, which the UN says has left at least 80,000 people dead.
The General Assembly reiterated its call for a political transition, which it said represented “the best opportunity to resolve the situation… peacefully”.
The resolution also expressed outrage at the “rapidly increasing death toll”, and strongly condemned the Syrian government’s use of heavy weapons and the “widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
The text called for urgent financial support to neighbouring countries, which are hosting 1.5 million refugees, and highlighted the “dire situation” of the 4.25 million internally displaced people.
A solid majority of 107 states voted to adopt the resolution, but that contrasted with 133 that supported a similar resolution in August, reports the BBC’s Barbara Plett at the UN in New York. There were 12 votes against and 59 abstentions on Wednesday.
The text was drafted by Arab states supporting the rebels, and critics said it overwhelmingly favoured the opposition.
Footage purporting to show an attack on Aleppo’s main prison on Tuesday was posted on the internet
But our correspondent says the drafters watered down the language, backing the coalition as simply “effective representative interlocutors for a political transition”.
This was necessary, said the French UN representative, to encourage attempts by the US and Russia to convince both the government and opposition to negotiate a settlement.
However the Russian deputy permanent representative, Alexander Pankin, said the resolution was “clearly a one-sided text” and would undermine the peace initiative.
“The full responsibility for the tragic development of events is put on the shoulders of the Syrian government. And this, in spite of obvious facts… about the illegal actions of the armed opposition, including terrorist actions.”
But US deputy permanent representative Rosemary DiCarlo argued that the resolution was “consistent” with the US-Russian initiative.
“Adopting this resolution will send a clear message that the political solution we all seek is the best way to end the suffering of the people of Syria,” she said.
Earlier, there was heavy fighting outside the main prison in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo after rebel fighters attempted to storm it.
Opposition sources said the rebels had launched an attack on the prison, which holds some 4,000 inmates, using suicide car bombs to try to blast holes in its walls.
Government forces said they had fought back, wounding and killing many of the rebels.
An independent MP, Besher Yazji, told the BBC that the rebels were trying to destroy Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, as they had already destroyed the city of Homs.
While the non-binding text has no legal force, resolutions of the 193-nation assembly can carry significant moral and political weight. There were 107 votes in favour, 12 against and 59 abstentions – a drop in support compared with a resolution condemning the Syrian government that passed in August with 133 votes in favour, 12 against and 31 abstentions.
U.N. diplomats cited concerns that Syria could be headed for “regime change” engineered by foreign governments and fears about a strengthening Islamist extremist element among the rebels as reasons for the decline in support for the resolution.
Russia, a close ally and arms supplier for Assad, strongly opposed the resolution drafted by Qatar, which Assad’s government has accused of arming the rebels seeking to oust him. But Moscow, which along with China has used its veto three times to prevent Security Council action against Assad, could not block the motion as there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.
Diplomats said the Russian delegation wrote to all U.N. members urging them to oppose the resolution. Moscow has complained that the resolution undermines U.S.-Russian efforts to organize a peace conference that would include Assad’s government and rebels, a meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said would likely take place in early June.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told the General Assembly before the vote that the resolution went against the U.S.-Russia push for a diplomatic solution to the 2-year-old crisis, which the United Nations says has killed at least 80,000 people.
“It is running against the current, especially in the light of the latest Russian-American rapprochement, which the Syrian government welcomed,” Ja’afari said.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo argued that the resolution was consistent with the Russian-U.S. initiative and sent “a clear message that the political solution we all seek is the best way to end the suffering of the people of Syria.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that he did not want planning for the conference to become “too long a process.” He said pressure should be put on all warring parties to come up urgently with names for a transitional government “that everyone in Syria can get behind.
Some U.N. diplomats and officials, however, are sceptical that the U.S.-Russian initiative will resolve the deadlock, which has prevented the 15-nation Security Council from taking any action on Syria, given the wide gulf between Moscow and Washington.
DOUBTS INCREASE ABOUT THE REBELS
Wednesday’s resolution, which had strong backing from Western and Gulf Arab states, was originally conceived to give Syria’s U.N. seat to the opposition Syrian National Coalition. But U.N. diplomats said it became clear in early negotiations that such a move would not pass the assembly, where many delegations fear their own governments could one day face rebel uprisings.
The resolution did, though, welcome the establishment of the Syrian National Coalition “as effective representative interlocutors needed for a political transition.”
The Syrian National Coalition welcomed the U.N. resolution, but said in a statement that much more needed to be done with a greater urgency to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
Syria accuses Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Britain and France of arming the rebels. The countries have denied the allegations but the rebels keep getting arms.
South Africa Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo said his country, which voted in favour of the previous resolution condemning Assad’s government, abstained this time because it opened the door to “regime change” by forces from outside Syria.
Experts have long said the militant al-Nusra Front in Syria is receiving support from al Qaeda-linked militants in neighbouring Iraq. The group has claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, and its fighters have joined other Syrian rebel brigades.
Iran, Bolivia, Venezuela, North Korea, Belarus and other delegations that tend to oppose U.S. policy at the United Nations also voted no. Ecuador, which abstained last year, said it voted against the resolution because it feared it legitimized a coup and wondered “who will be the next country on the list.”
Indonesia, which voted in favour of the August resolution, said it abstained mainly because of the resolution’s implied recognition of the Syrian opposition.
Mohammad Khazaee, the ambassador of Syria’s ally and arms supplier Iran, accused the rebels of using chemical weapons against Syrians, something the opposition says was done by Assad’s government and not rebel forces. He also spoke of an increasing number of “terrorist and extremist groups” in Syria.
Russia also warned about terrorist elements in Syria.
A U.N. plan for a chemical weapons investigation has been blocked because Assad’s government has refused to grant an international inspection team unfettered access in the country. The government only wants the team to inspect Aleppo and not Homs, both sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks that the rebels and government accuse each other of perpetrating.
The vote could show that recent images of savagery from the civil war – a rebel commander biting a heart ripped out of an enemy combatant – may be undermining the case of those arguing Syria would be better without Assad.
There have also been grisly images of acts committed by Assad’s forces making their way around the Internet.
Another reason for drop in support for the resolution, envoys said, may be the fact that Assad remains in control of much of the country and has demonstrated that his armed forces and allied militia have not lost the war – although they have not been able to win either.
“I’m convinced a lot of countries voted for (last year’s) text because they believed they were voting for the winning side,” a senior Western U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in reference to the August, 2012 resolution. “They are not so sure anymore.”
“Now also you have the Islamist, terrorist factor which is much more conspicuous,” he said.
The Syrian conflict started with mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad, but turned into a civil war in which the United Nations says at least 80,000 people have been killed. Islamist militants have emerged as the most potent of the anti-Assad rebels.
Wednesday’s vote came as Washington and European governments have been mulling the benefits and risks of supplying arms to Syrian rebels.
A French official said on Wednesday that France was floating a proposal that the European Union should ease an arms embargo but delay acting on the decision to intensify pressure on Damascus to negotiate an end to the civil war.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham, David Brunnstrom and Bill Trott)
KIRUNA, Sweden – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday they believed they could pull off peace talks on Syria, where their nations back opposing sides in a war that may have cost 120,000 lives.
UNITED NATIONS – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday warned against allowing planning for a peace conference on Syria’s 2-year-old civil war to get bogged down, saying a transitional government must be agreed as soon as possible by the warring parties.
UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and praised the opposition, but a decline in support for the Gulf Arab-drafted resolution suggested growing uneasiness about Syria’s fractious rebels.
UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly is set to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution that condemns Syrian authorities and accepts the opposition Syrian National Coalition as party to a potential political transition. | Video
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Tens of thousands of previously undocumented deaths from Alawite areas makes death toll exceed 94,000. Activists from the towns of areas with a traditionally Muslim Alawite background have reported and confirmed to the SOHR the number of deaths in these areas is much higher than what was documented and published in our figures two days ago. Since they have documented thousands of more casualties from these areas. Read more