Wednesday 24 October 2012

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Approximately 150 syrians have been killed so far today (Wednesday 24/10/2012). The dead: 73 unarmed civilians (12 of them children) , 27 rebel fighters, 2 defected soldiers and 46 regular soldiers. 55 in Reef Dimashq ( 15 rebel fighters, 5 regular soldiers), 33 in Idlib province (4 rebel fighters, 13 regular soldiers), 15 in Aleppo province ( 2 rebels, 13 regular soldiers), 10 killed in Damascus (2 regular soldiers), 4 killed in Deir Izzour (2 regular soldiers), 4 in Hama province (1 rebel fighter), 3 civilians killed in Dera’a, 18 combatants killed in Raqqa province (2 rebels and 16 regular soldiers), 4 killed in Homs province ( 1 rebel fighter), 2 defected soldiers were killed in Reef Dimashq and Dera’a.

PYD report:

On the Ground Activities in West Kurdistan: Syrian Crisis

The Syrian Crisis and conflicting in the country is getting started more than one year and eight months, which is casting its heavy shadow on the Kurdish people whether they are obligated to the military service or civilians who have nothing to do with any of the conflicted parties.

Damascus: Two young Kurds passed away as a Result of Syrian Regime Aircraft Bombarding: The two Kurdish youths passed away yesterday due to the indiscriminate shelling of their homes in Sabina District inDamascus.

The two Kurdish youths are:

–       Mohamad Sabri Ose, born in 1986 in Ain Dyoar related to Derka Hamko, is married.

–       Mohamad Sharif Yousef Abbas born in 1982 inAbreVillagerelated toGerkeLake, is married and has one daughter.

Disappearance of the Kurdish Citizen Ayed Mohamad Othman for more than 2 years: Family of the Kurdish citizen Ayed Mohamad Othman who is 38 years old (born in Kobane, married and has 4 childeren) is directing the appeal to anyone who knows some information about his son.

No news about two Kurdish youths in Efrin: Kidnapping and missing cases of Kurdish youth still going on inSyria, and increased along with security deterioration because of the ongoing struggle inSyria. Recently the two Kurdish youths have joined the list.

According to private sources, there is no news about the Pharmacist Mohamad Omar Murad from Rago District and Hussein Shexo, born in 1990 in Belbel District related to Efrin who was serving the Military Mandatory Service in the Syrian Army since 2009. After the expiration of the service, he has been kept for a period of 8 months.

In the same context, correspondent of Firat News Agency inAlepporeported the disappearance of a number of workers who were coming fromLebanon, Al Gab area after crossing the Syrian Lebanese border by 3 private cars.

The seven Kurdish workers who were among the missing workers are from Shero area related to Efrin. Their names are: Adnan Omar Gamo – Hassan Guma Gamo – Assad Hassan Shelo – Nuhad Yehya Gamo – Oso Dydo Oso – Hassan Mohamad Shilo – Nuhad Ahmad Katlo.

Two Kurdish Citizens passed away and Syrian Security forces is targeting a civilian Bus: According to Firat News Agency, the Kurdish citizen Hassan Beks and his son passed away as a result of the destruction of their house by the Regular Syrian Army. Their body were taken toHananHospital.

As elements of the Syrian Regime Forces fired live bullets on a passenger bus at the southern entrance ofAleppowhich was coming fromDamascus. The Kurdish citizen Badrya Brimo 45 years old from Abre village related to Efrin was injured as a result of this. In addition the bus was damaged due of this.

The Agency Reporter said that four mortar shells landed on Bani Zed and Sulaiman Halabi area and hit some buildings near to the scene of the fighting between the elements of the two armies (regular and free). The citizens Mohamad Amer, Adnan Alyan and Yusra haj Ali were injured and have been taken to theOthmanHospitalin Ashrafia District immediately.

Clashes in Tel Hamis and reports about injuries and deaths: Special resources said that Syrian security forces, attacked thursday at eleven p.m. a  hideout of a an armed group in the village of  ”Khirbet Aljdua” of the town of Talin Hasaka. Which resulted  in clashes between security forces and the armed group.

A car bomb detonated on the “Hasaka” road: Firat news agency correspondent reported that  a bomb exploded at a checkpoint of the Syrian army in the “Qunatira”  area near “ Ain Aisa” on “Hasaka-Aleppo” road.

According to the Firat correspondent the free army detonated a car bomb at the Syrian army  checkpoint, which led to the deaths of three members of the free army. The number of injuries at the Syrian army side where four and the number of deaths stayed unknown.

As a result of the bombing and the clashes the road between the provinces of “Hassaka” and “Aleppo” has been closed for around two hours,  prompting the regular army to send military reinforcements to the region.

Health boards in the Western Kurdistan: Star Union held a medical symposium in “ Zorava” neighborhood in Damascus city.

In a series of awareness campaign launched by the Star Union in Western Kurdistan to achieve a society free of disease and ignorance, the union  organized  a medical symposium at “ Aosman Sabri” centre  of culture and art in “Zorava” Kurdish neighborhood in the Syrian capitalDamascus.

Continuation of training the medical staff in “Afrin”: Health Council in “Afrin” city continues training the volunteer groups in first aid to able them to provide assistance in cases of emergency. It should be noted that the  youths in “Afrin”  are trained in several centers in “Afrin” city and its environs.

Activities of the Kurdish language Foundation: Kurdish native language taught in the village “Basoth”

The Language Foundation initiated the opening of a session to teach  the Kurdish language in “Basoth” Primary School in “Sherawa” area in Afrin. Students of all ages  joined the session, including 70 intellectuals in the hope to be rehabilitated to become teachers of the Kurdish language.

Closure of a course in Kurdish language in the centre of “Rashidi Kurd”

In the centre of “Rashidi Kurd” in “Amoude” city certificates have been distributed to students whose completed the first phase in learning the Kurdish Language. The students whose completed the course were all above the age of thirty.

Aleppo: Foundation of the Kurdish language begins teaching “history” and” geography” in the Kurdish language

The foundation of the Kurdish language  started to discuss the idea of teaching “History” and “Geography” subjects  in the Kurdish language . The Foundation also discussed the ongoing campaign to continue graduate teachers who will be able to teach the Kurdish language to Kurdish pupils  in all revive of”Aleppo” city.

Western Kurdistan is homeland of all sects and components

The second meeting of the popular council in Derbasye: Yesterday the popular council held its second meeting in Derbasye carried the slogan ‘’Together kurds, arabs and Seryan for free and democraticSyria’’. As set output decisions dealt with all aspects of the organization for the advancement and development of the region.

Raqa City: The Popular Council helds its second Periodic meeting: Yesterday the popular council in Reqa city held its second periodic meeting, in the presence of the president of the council, his two deputies and majority of the council members. The meeting addressed the work of the council over the three months since its inception and the mistakes which were happened in the previous period.

Formation of Popular Councils in Efrin are going on: Within a series meetings by the Democratic Society Movement for the application of Democratic Self-Management in Western Kurdistan, two preparatory meetings were held in each of the villages Shitana and Arba related toEfrinCity. The meetings were in the presence of hundreds residents of Naza village and Qor teqolaq related to Shara in Efrin with a view to the establishment of Popular councils in the villages.

The difficult Economic situation in Zorava and the council is calling an aid campaign: The popular council in Zorava called yesterday for the distribution of large quantities of sugar to all households in the neighbourhood depending on their ration cards.

Conditions and developments in Kubane: Forces of Martyr Brigade Sadiq Kubane begin a campaign to damage Indian Hemp durgs.

The leadership of Martyr Brigade Sadiq has announced in a statement issued on the seventeenth of this month addressed to the public, its intention to damage Indian Hemp drugs. And preventing the spread of phenomenon of growing this in all village of Kubane. Noting that the function of martyr Brigade Sadiq is to purge the region of this article alert the citizens to the dangers.

Voice of America: Kurds the Key for Syrian Opposition

 Concern About Broader Autonomy Undermines Support for Uprising

Kurdish reluctance is frustrating efforts by opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to form some kind of transitional administration that could win support from foreign governments.

Syrian Kurds have walked out on several attempts to form a unified opposition, complaining that expatriate politicians don’t adequately recognize their status as a people, or their long-standing demands for autonomy. Some opposition leaders are saying the Kurds won’t sufficiently commit to a unified post-Assad Syria.

“It is absolutely the case that the relationship between the mainstream opposition in exile and Syria’s Kurds has been largely antagonistic and very, very tense,” says Steve Heydemann, senior advisor for Middle East Initiatives at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “That gets back to the question of this mutual lack of trust.”

President Assad moved to encourage that mistrust early in the 20-month-old Syrian conflict by granting Kurdish communities greater political freedoms.

“This really put them on their heels,” says Cato Institute Middle East analyst Malou Innocent. “They said: ‘Well, should we continue our assistance to the rebellion or should we actually stick this out and see if Assad continues to hold onto power?’ They are in the middle.”


A Decisive Minority

Innocent says Kurds are Syria’s “decisive minority, and they have been on the fence.”

Heydemann credits Kurdish leaders for largely resisting President Assad’s bid to secure their loyalty. But on the other hand, he says, “they have also resisted efforts by the opposition leadership to draw the Syrian Kurdish community firmly onto the side of the revolution.”

Kurdish misgivings over the composition of Syria’s political opposition create gaps that Heydemann says “remain very, very large. Efforts have continued to try to bridge those gaps, but they haven’t made a great deal of progress.”

Chief among the so-called “Friends of Syria” trying to bridge the gaps is the United States.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the Obama administration has repeatedly stressed the need to see “all of the groups in Syria working together on a future that provides a place for Syrians of all different stripes, whether they are Alawi, Sunni, Kurd, Druze, Christians — whomever they are.

“So from that perspective,” Nuland said, “we have consistently encouraged the opposition groups to incorporate the Kurdish opposition as well.”

Nuland says some Kurds are cooperating with the opposition Syrian National Congress.

“There are also a number of reports from inside Syria of some of the liberated areas where Kurdish populations and Sunni populations are working well together,” she says. “That’s certainly the direction that we encourage for the Syria that emerges from this — to be representative of all and welcoming of all.”


Concerns in Washington

But Washington remains mindful of the ties between Syria’s largest Kurdish political group — the Democratic Unity Party, or PYD — and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, that the European Union and the United States both consider a terrorist group.

“The Turkish government has been very explicit in stating that if they perceived any direct effort by the PYD to engage in anti-Turkish activities, especially across the border, that they would respond very forcefully,” Heydemann says.

“So the components are there for some significant tensions to emerge as the Kurds try to exploit this opportunity of the uprising to advance some long term relationships and use their connections to other regional communities as a bargaining chip in doing so.”

Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the civil war violence have taken refuge in neighboring nations. Shown here is a refugee family in the Al Zaatri camp near Mafraq, Jordan, Oct. 24, 2012. Photo: Reuters

Heydemann says some Syrian Kurds are receiving military training in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he says there is also political consultation about the best bargaining positions.

“I don’t think they intend to play the regime against the opposition,” he says. “But they do feel that they have an opportunity to use this moment to try and advance some of their long-standing concerns that they don’t feel either side has really responded to yet.”

Malou Innocent believes many Kurds have still not decided where their loyalties should be placed.

“They don’t know how this will pan out,” she says. “Especially when we see the FSA, the Free Syrian Army. They do have light weapons. They have been somewhat effective. But they are still up against a very capable Syrian army, one of the strongest militaries in the region.”

With the fighting in northern Syria driving more than 100,000 refugees into Turkey and Iraq, it’s especially important to have Kurdish participation at upcoming talks in Doha toward an opposition “leadership council.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the idea is to create a “leadership structure that endorses inclusion, democratic process, peaceful political transition, and reassure all Syrians, particularly those who are in minority groups, that there is a path forward if everyone supports it.”

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
 22:20 Indiscriminate shelling targeted the town of Houla outside Homs, activists said.
 22:17 Heavy clashes took place between regime forces and the rebel Free Syrian Army in the towns of Al-Tabaqa and Soulouk in the Al-Raqqa district, activists said.
 21:40 Heavy shelling hit Tafas and Tariq al-Sid in Daraa, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 21:04 Heavy shelling targeted the neighborhood of Al-Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 20:53 The death toll across Syria on Wednesday has increased to 137 people, activists said.
 19:45 The UN Security Council on Wednesday called on the Syrian government and opposition to heed peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s appeal for a ceasefire in their 19-month-old war.
 19:11 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that Syria would exploit any power vacuum in Lebanon, worsening tensions in the Middle East after a deadly bomb blast in Beirut.
 19:09 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday shows armed men in Deir az-Zour gathered around a pickup truck with a Free Syrian Army logo on it while others boarded a Syrian regime helicopter
 19:07 The Syrian Foreign Ministry addressed letters to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and other UN top officials saying that “the massacre” in Douma near Damascus occurred in a location outside the regime forces control, state-owned SANA reported on Wednesday.
 18:23 Unidentified attackers blew up a Syrian gas pipeline in the eastern province of Hasakeh on Wednesday, a monitoring group said.
 17:57 A car bomb explosion in southern Damascus killed six people and wounded 20 others on Wednesday, state television said, while a watchdog gave a death toll of eight.
 17:49 Islamist group Al-Nusra Front on Wednesday rejected a truce in Syria proposed by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for this week’s Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, SITE Intelligence Group reported.
 17:40 UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the UN Security Council Wednesday that a ceasefire in Syria would be a “small step” toward reaching a settlement but he was uncertain whether it would hold, according to diplomats who attended a closed-door meeting.
 17:31 Dozens of people were killed and others wounded in the Syrian regime’s shelling of Mouaddamiyyeh near Damascus, activists said.
 15:55 The rebel Free Syrian Army attacked and destroyed a regime checkpoint in Douma in retaliation for Tuesday’s “massacre,” activists said.
 15:53 Several people were killed and others wounded in the Syrian regime forces’ shelling of the Al-Ghouta al-Sharqiyya area of the Damascus district, activists said.
 14:33 The rebel Free Syrian Army will cease fire during this week’s Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday if government forces stop shooting first, its commander said on Wednesday.
 14:09 More than 35,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the outbreak of Syria’s anti-regime revolt in March 2011, a watchdog group told AFP on Wednesday.
 13:15 The Syrian government will take a final decision on Thursday about a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the foreign ministry said, after international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the regime is willing to accept his ceasefire initiative.
 12:57 Syrian shelling of Bilal Mosque in Edleb’s Maarat an-Naaman killed ten people, Al-Jazeera reported.
 12:47 An air strike on a village in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib killed five members of the same family on Wednesday, including a woman and a child, a monitoring group said.
 12:04 Syrian warplanes raided the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan on Wednesday, monitors said, as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi prepared to brief the UN Security Council on his ceasefire efforts.
 11:57 The Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have shoulder-launched missile systems, including Stingers made by the United States, Russia’s top general said on Wednesday.

 11:39 Wednesday’s death toll has increased to 40, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 11:27 Seven people were killed and others wounded in the Syrian regime’s shelling of Kafarouma town in Edleb, activists said.
 10:28 Clashes broke out between rebels and the Syrian regime army in Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad neighborhood near Damascus, activists said.
 10:18 Twenty people were killed Wednesday in the Syrian regime’s shelling of the town of Duma near Damascus, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 9:14 Rebels and the Syrian army forces clashed in Al-Qaboun neighborhood in Damascus, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 9:08 The Syrian army shelled Masakin Hanano neighborhood in Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.

BBC: Assad ‘agrees to Eid ceasefire’

The UN’s envoy to Syria says President Bashar al-Assad’s government has agreed to abide by a ceasefire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Cairo that most opposition factions had also said they would observe any ceasefire.

The government said it would make its final decision on Thursday.

Mr Brahimi said he hoped to use the lull in fighting over Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, to “discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire”.

Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, is celebrated by Muslims to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as proof of obedience to God.

In other developments:

  • Syrian state TV says a car bomb has exploded in Damascus, killing six people and injuring 20 others
  • BBC reporters in Damascus say warplanes have been flying over the capital and firing on some areas
  • Opposition forces and the government blame each other for the killing of at least 16 civilians in Douma, a north-western suburb of the capital

‘Humble initiative’

Mr Brahimi has travelled across the Middle East over the past two weeks in an effort to persuade the Syrian government and opposition, as well as their respective backers, to agree to his proposal for a ceasefire to “allow a political process to develop”.

After holding talks on Wednesday with the Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, the Algerian diplomat announced that the Syrian government had expressed its support.

“After the visit I made to Damascus, there is agreement from the Syrian government for a ceasefire during the Eid,” he told reporters.

“Other factions in Syria that we were able to contact – heads of fighting groups – most of them also agree on the principle of the ceasefire.”

Mr Brahimi did not say when he believed the truce would begin or how long it would last.

The Syrian foreign ministry said the government would announce its “final position on the issue” on Thursday.

“The proposal to halt military operations during the blessed Eid al-Adha holiday is still being studied by the leadership of the army and the armed forces,” a statement explained.

Some analysts say divisions among the rebels over the ceasefire are just one part of the problem because there are also differences of opinion within the government.

While politicians might approve a ceasefire, the army and security officials are viewed by some as more likely to object and continue to push for a military solution.


Gen Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s military council, said any ceasefire observed by the government would be reciprocated, but warned that it had “lied many times before”.

The BBC’s Tim Whewell reports from Marea, where the threat of helicopters distracts funeral-goers

“It is impossible that the regime will implement the truce, even if it says it will,” he told the AFP news agency.

The leader of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition, told the Associated Press he had little hope the truce would take hold.

“This regime, we don’t trust it, because it is saying something and doing something else on the ground,” Abdelbaset Sayda added.

Mr Brahimi will brief the UN Security Council later on Wednesday.

Earlier this week the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, revealed he had started to make plans to send an observer force to Syria should a lasting ceasefire be agreed.

A ceasefire negotiated in April by Mr Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, broke down within days despite the presence of unarmed UN monitors, and was followed by a dramatic escalation in the conflict.

Analysis Jon Leyne BBC Middle East correspondent, Cairo

Lakhdar Brahimi’s surprise announcement of a Syria ceasefire raises as many questions as it answers.

As he made clear, while he believes the Syrian government has agreed to the ceasefire, only some of the rebel groups are on board. There are so many different rebel groups it may be impossible to win unanimous agreement from them. It could also be true that the Syrian government actually has more interest in a ceasefire, while it remains in power.

There is also the question of when the ceasefire would come into force – some Arab countries begin the Eid al-Adha holiday on Thursday, others, including Syria, mark it from Friday – and how long it would last. Nevertheless this does seem to be a rare glimmer of good news in a conflict which has been getting more intense by the day.

Reuters: Syria government indicates accepts holiday truce: Russia

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has indicated to Russia that it will accept U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s proposal for a Muslim holiday ceasefire in Syria, Moscow’s U.N. envoy said on Wednesday.

“We have had indications that they (Syria’s government) are accepting the proposal of Mr. Brahimi,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council during which Brahimi briefed council members via video link from Egypt.

Brahimi told council members that a final announcement Of a ceasefire with rebels was expected Thursday. Churkin seemed to confirm remarks Brahimi made earlier on Wednesday in Cairo, when he said the government had indicated its acceptance of the proposed truce.

The council issued a statement after the meeting supporting the ceasefire, which would begin on Friday and last for several days at least during the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha, and urging “all regional and international actors to use their influence” to ensure the truce is implemented.

“The members of the Council agreed that an Eid al-Adha ceasefire could be a first step towards a sustainable cessation of all violence,” the council said.

After Brahimi spoke to the press in Egypt, the Syrian government appeared to contradict him, saying that its military command was still studying the truce proposal.

“The answer will be announced tomorrow officially speaking,” Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told reporters. “We have always been part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said Brahimi also contacted the opposition to persuade rebels to accept a temporary truce in the 19-month-old conflict that the United Nations says has killed around 30,000 people.

“He had been in touch with various parts of the opposition,” Lyall Grant told reporters. “Certainly the Free Syrian Army and other parts of the opposition had indicated that they were prepared to respond if the government took the first step in initiating the ceasefire over the Eid period.”

On the way into the council meeting, Churkin said Moscow hoped Brahimi’s plan would be successful.

“We support it very strongly,” Churkin said. “We worked very hard in support of Mr. Brahimi in making sure there is a chance that might happen.”

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong echoed Churkin’s views.

“Hopefully we will see the truce, and also we want to see a sustainable … cessation of all violence,” Li told reporters after the council session.

The United States and European council members blame Russia, a staunch ally and key arms supplier for Assad’s government, and China for the council’s deadlock on the 19-month-long conflict. Moscow and Beijing have vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad and reject the idea of sanctioning his government.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington also would like to see an end to the violence.

“And we’d like to see a political transition take hold and begin,” she told reporters in Washington in an appearance with the visiting Brazilian foreign minister. “We’ve been calling for that for more than a year.”

She said the United States was increasing its non-lethal support for the Syrian opposition, including working with local councils inside Syria. She said Washington also was working with its friends and allies to promote more cohesion among the disparate Syrian opposition groups with the aim of producing a new leadership council following meetings scheduled for Doha in the next several weeks.

One envoy said Brahimi also told the Security Council that he needs its “strong and unanimous support.”

“Another failure would lead to extreme escalation and spillover to other countries,” the diplomat, who was inside the meeting, paraphrased Brahimi as saying.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay also emphasized the need for the council to overcome its impasse on Syria in an address to the 193-nation General Assembly.

“While taking into account important political concerns, it is urgent to find ways to avert the massive loss of civilians and human rights violations,” Pillay said.

“International law obliges states to protect their people, and where a state manifestly fails to carry out this obligation, then the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people,” she said.

Russia and China have repeatedly said they refuse to condone outside military intervention in Syria such as the NATO operation to protect civilians in Libya last year that led to the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his death at the hands of rebels who fought to oust him.

Brahimi told the council there was no longer a single safe place for Syrian civilians in the country and that the army continued to shell indiscriminately, diplomats said. He also spoke of a disregard for humanitarian law and human rights on both sides.

“Executions, kidnapping and arbitrary detentions (by the government) continue,” a diplomat cited Brahimi as saying.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by Vicki Allen and Jackie Frank)

Russia demands expulsion of reporters, envoys over U.N. leaks

UNITED NATIONS – Russia slammed leaks to the media from a closed-door Security Council briefing on Syria on Wednesday, saying diplomats and journalists involved should be stripped of U.N. accreditation for the release of confidential information.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was angry that some diplomats conveyed to Reuters that the U.N.-Arab League mediator for the Syrian conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, told the 15-member council that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had accepted Brahimi’s plan for an Eid holiday ceasefire.

“It’s a shame that somebody’s feeding information, or disinformation, to Reuters from the consultation room of the Security Council. This is a scandalous thing, we have seen this before. I hope they are paid well,” Churkin told reporters.

Reuters adhered to the highest standards in reporting this story, a company spokesperson said. “It is fair and accurate and we stand by it,” the spokesperson said.

Despite his frustration at the leak, Churkin confirmed the Reuters article in comments to reporters at the Security Council media stakeout after the briefing on the 19-month Syrian conflict had finished.

Churkin, a former Soviet government spokesman, also said Russia had raised the issue during the meeting and asked the U.N. secretariat to investigate.

“We believe that this is a gross violation of professional ethics so we’ll be fighting that, if need be by stripping those who are resorting to this of U.N. accreditation,” Churkin said.

“We don’t want to have another Murdoch soap opera in the United Nations,” he said, apparently referring to the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire.

Other Security Council delegations, including the United States, have complained in the past about leaks from closed meetings to the media, though none has called for reporters or diplomats to lose their accreditations over it.

The U.N. secretariat had no immediate reaction.


Around 30,000 people have been killed in Syria since a government crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011 spiraled into civil war.

The United States and European council members blame Russia, a staunch ally and key arms supplier for Assad’s government, and China for the council’s deadlock on the conflict. Moscow and Beijing have vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad and reject the idea of sanctioning his government.

A diplomat present at the Syria briefing, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Churkin had told the council it was illegal to report on confidential consultations.

“He completely lost it,” the diplomat told Reuters. Other envoys confirmed his remarks.

Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists said confidential sources were the key to reporters covering various beats, including international diplomacy.

“Journalists and news organizations should not be intimidated for doing their job, especially when covering organizations whose mandate is to defend freedom of expression,” Mahoney said in a statement.

Churkin suggested that press freedom should not be unlimited.

“I respect freedom of the media and I think we need to be open, but the pay-off for that is inevitably that the media needs to respect the confidentiality of the work of the security council,” Churkin said.

Media watchdogs have raised concerns about media freedom in post-Soviet Russia. At least 32 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992, including the 2006 killing of Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, and most have gone unsolved, the Committee to Protect Journalists says.

It lists Russia as the ninth-worst country in the world for the treatment of journalists.

(Editing by David Storey)

Children among 25 shot, knifed in Syria: oppositionEIRUT – Opposition activists and Syrian state media traded blame on Wednesday for the killing of at least 25 people, including women and children, in the town of Douma near Damascus.


“There was a horrible massacre in Douma last night,” the media office of the opposition network in Douma said in a statement. “More than 20 civilians have been slaughtered by (pro-government militia) shabiha who were at a checkpoint and then stormed into a residential building nearby.”

Mahmoud Doumany, an activist living in Douma, said that he had the names of 20 of the dead but that 10 were too disfigured to be identified.

“People now are scared and very angry. Some of the martyrs were killed with knives, others were shot,” he told Reuters.

Syrian state television said 25 people had been killed by “terrorist members of the so-called ‘Liwa al-Islam.'” State media labels opposition members as “terrorists.”

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Syrian army was not present in the area.

Opposition video showed images of corpses wrapped in blankets and of the bodies of women and children, one of whom had a hole in his head and another had part of his face missing.

“God is great,” said a man off screen, his voice trembling as he walked around the house, filming bodies on several floors of a residential building.

It was not possible to verify what happened due to Syria’s restrictions on media access.

More than 32,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which began with peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011 and escalated into civil war as repression increased.

Global and regional powers have been unable to stop the violence, with the West condemning President Bashar al-Assad but shying away from arming the rebels, and Russia, China and Iran sticking by the embattled autocrat.

Syria, whose leadership comes from the Alawite sect linked to Shi’ite Islam, says it is fighting Islamist hardliners backed by Sunni Muslim states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes and Mariam Karouny; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Guardian: Syria: Lakhdar Brahimi makes his move

24 Oct 2012: Editorial: Russia and America have paralysed themselves in different ways in the face of this crisis; the regional actors are either meddling or just reacting