Thursday 28 November 2013

2013 Nov 28Saleh Muslim of PYD meets Lakhdar Brahimi

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Thursday 28/11/2013: More than 230 people killed across Syria. Out of the 71 civilian casualties 14 were children and 10 women. 162 combatants from the regime forces, rebels, ISIS and Hizbullah were killed.

By province: Reef Dimashq (23 rebels, 19 civilians*). Aleppo (9 rebels, 28 civilians**). Der’a (3 rebels, 5 civilians). Idlib (2 rebels, 6 civilians***). Homs (1 rebel, 6 civilians). Damascus (1 rebel, 5 civilians). Hama (6 rebels, 2 civilians****). Qneitira (1 rebel).

* The bodies of 10 civilians were found after regime forces regained control of Deir Attiya city.

** 12 civilians, including a pregnant woman, 5 children and 2 other women, were killed by the helicopter bombardment on the Qadi Askar neighbourhood of Aleppo.3 little girls and 3 women were killed by the helicopter bombardment on the town of Deir Hafir.

*** 2 university students( male and female) were killed by a mortar shell falling on the campus roundabout in Idlib city.

**** 6 rebels were killed by clashes by the Gherbal checkpoint. A woman and a child were killed by regime bombardment on Souran town.

A defected colonel was killed during clashes in al-Nabek city, Qalamoun area of Reef Dimashq.

10 unidentified rebels were killed by clashes and bombardment.

22 NDF militiamen were killed by clashes and attacks on checkpoints.

47 regular soldiers, including 4 officers, were killed: 14 in Damascus and Reef Dimashq, 16 Aleppo, 9 Hama, 3 Raqqah, 3 Homs, 2 Qneitira.

16 Lebanese Hizbullah fighters killed since Friday during clashes with the ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic rebel groups in the al-Murouj area of the eastern Ghouta, Reef Dimashq. 1 of the fighters died in the Qalamoun clashes.

21 non-syrian fighters from the ISIS, al-Khadra battalion and Jabhat al-Nusra, many were Arabs, were killed by clashes and bombardment in Reef Dimashq and Aleppo. The dead include leaders.

11 non-Syrian fighters from the pro-regime Abu al-Fadel al-Abbas brigade were killed by clashes with the ISIS and allies in Reef Dimashq and Aleppo.

Reports that a woman and a child were killed by a mortar falling on the Ashrafiya neighbourhood of Aleppo. Reports that 4 civilians from the Marjeh neighbourhood of aleppo were killed by the regime bombardment.

1 rebel killed earlier in clashes in Reef Hama was documented by the SOHR. 1 man killed by the regime bombardment last week on the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood was also documented.

al-Hasaka province: YPG fighters took hold of 3 villages (Rokoba – A’wja – Tal Maghas) that lie on the Tal Tamer-Hasaka road after violent clashes with the ISIS, al-Nusra and several rebel battalions.

al-Raqqa province: The airforce carried out 8 air raids on areas of al-Tabaqa city, along with regime bombardment on the city, which led to several injuries.

Aleppo province: The airforce dropped explosive barrels on the Karm al-Tahhan area in Aleppo city. At least 5 civilians were killed and 20 injured, some of which are in a critical state, by helicopter bombardment on the Qadi A’skar and al-Qaterji areas. Areas in the M’aret al-Artiq area were bombarded by regular forces. Violent clashes broke out last night between fighters from the Fajer al-Sham Islamic battalion, Ahrar al-Sham Islamic battalion and the ISIS from one side and regular forces, NDF combatants, and Hezbollah officers from the other side in the perimeter of the A’ziza town which led to the death of 7 ISIS fighters, 4 Islamic fighters and 20 regular soldiers, NDF combatants and its supporting militants. 3 women and 3 children were documented as killed by aerial bombardment on the Deir Hafer town today.

NOW Syria: Syria rebel chief disavows “alien” Islam of jihadists 

BEIRUT – Syria’s mainstream rebel leader has said that all those fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are Muslims but that the draconian punishments imposed by jihadist groups in Islam’s name are “alien.”

Supreme Military Council leader Selim Idriss pledged cooperation, however, with a newly formed alliance of Islamist rebel groups just days after it committed itself to setting up an Islamic state in Syria.

His comments, in an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Aan news channel, come amid a mounting outcry at beheadings and other summary executions carried out by fighters loyal to Al-Qaeda who have become a significant force on the ground.

“Those who rose in revolt [against Assad] are known, and they are Muslims just as we are all Muslim. As such, all the factions are Muslim and are proud of Islam,” Idriss said in the interview to be broadcast on Thursday.

But “there are those who come from abroad, and we know nothing about them… who want to impose on us customs… labeling people either Muslim or atheist, heretic and worthy of beheading.

“This is foreign to us, and to the moderation… of the Islam that we want to hold on to,” Idriss said in excerpts of the interview obtained by AFP.

Some hardline Sunni Islamist groups regard Shiites, including Assad’s Alawite sect, as heretics and those who violate their extreme interpretation of the faith, even among fellow Sunnis, as apostates punishable by death.

Idriss gave his blessing however to a new alliance of rebel factions pledged to the establishment of an Islamic state.

“I… congratulate and bless our brothers in this front,” Idriss said, adding: “A large number of the brothers in this front are with us in the Supreme Military Council.”

Some but not all of the factions in the Islamic Front are nominally loyal to Idriss’s SMC, the military arm of the opposition National Coalition recognized by many Arab and Western governments.

The Islamic Front is the biggest alliance of rebel factions on the ground.

The SMC has struggled to exert control over the myriad of rebel units, something Idriss attributed to the failure of foreign governments to provide it with adequate supplies of weaponry to channel to fighters on the ground.

“Neither financial assistance nor sufficient weapons, vehicles or communications equipment have been provided,” the rebel leader complained.

Some Western governments have provided non-lethal aid to the rebels but they have baulked at providing weaponry for fear that it might fall into the hands of groups loyal to Al-Qaeda.

BBC: Syria conflict: Opposition chief to attend Geneva talks

The head of Syria’s main opposition group has said he will attend planned peace talks in Geneva in January aimed at ending the civil war.

Ahmad Jarba said the Syrian National Coalition saw talks as a step towards “leadership transition”, meaning President Bashar al-Assad’s removal.

The Syrian government has also said it would attend but would not negotiate a handover of power.

Rebel groups involved in the fighting have said they will not take part.

Heavy clashes were reported on Thursday in eastern Damascus and Golan in the south-west. Activists reported six dead after a surface-to-surface missile fell on the jihadist-controlled northern city of Raqa overnight.

More than 100,000 people have died in the violence since peaceful protests against Mr Assad began in March 2011.

Almost nine million others have been driven from their homes, around two-fifths of Syria’s pre-war population.

‘Democratic transformation’

The Syrian National Coalition has previously set conditions for attending peace talks – including the setting up of humanitarian corridors and release of political prisoners.

Mr Jarba said on Wednesday night that he would go to the conference, but reiterated that National Coalition rejected any future role for President Assad.

“Our position on Geneva is clear – in our last meeting of the National Coalition we presented a comprehensive and clear vision towards attending Geneva 2. This vision was agreed upon by the majority in the coalition,” he said.

He said that “genuine democratic transformation” was needed, but that Mr Assad could not be part of it.

“There is no way that the individual responsible for the destruction of the country [meaning Mr Assad] can be responsible for building the country,” he added.

Earlier the Syrian government confirmed it would attend the talks, but dismissed the opposition demand that Mr Assad should play no role in any transition.

The foreign ministry said its delegation to the talks would pursue “the Syrian people’s demands, first and foremost eliminating terrorism”. Officials routinely refer to all opposition in these terms.

The UN, US and Russia have been trying for months to get both sides to agree a political solution to the conflict.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he expected both sides to come “with a clear understanding” that the goal of the talks was the full implementation of the Geneva Communique, issued after a meeting of the UN-backed Action Group for Syria in the Swiss city in June 2012.

He reiterated that the peace talks would seek to establish a transitional government with full executive powers – as envisaged in the Geneva Communique.

Reuters: Gulf Arab states say Syrian opposition should attend Geneva

[SKS comment: how would this be OK???]

RIYADH – Syrian peace talks planned for January must put in place a timeframe for a transitional government and should not involve any opposition group other than the National Coalition, Gulf Arab foreign ministers said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday after they met in Kuwait, foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members also said they hoped Iran’s preliminary deal with world powers would lead to a comprehensive solution to its nuclear crisis.

“The ministers affirmed the importance of strengthening international support for the Syrian opposition represented by the National Coalition, for participation in the Geneva 2 conference,” said the statement.