Tag Archives: Syria

EU condemns Syria use of chemical weapons

9/4/2020 “Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU on the release of the first report of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team
The European Union welcomes the release of the first report of the Investigation and Identification Team to the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and to the Secretary General of the United Nations on 8 April 2020.

“We fully support the report’s findings and note with great concern its conclusions. The European Union strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Air Force as concluded by the report. Those identified responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable for these reprehensible acts.

Accountability is essential to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons by anyone – be it a State or a non-State actor – anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances is a violation of international law and can amount to the most serious of international crimes – war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Impunity for these horrible acts will not be tolerated. It is now up to the International Community to duly consider the report and take appropriate action. The European Union, consistent with its own commitment to the Partnership against impunity of the use of chemical weapons, is determined to ensure that this clear violation of the core principles of the Convention receives the strongest possible response from the Chemical Weapons Convention’s States Parties.

The European Union has previously imposed restrictive measures on high-level Syrian officials and scientists for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons and is ready to consider introducing further measures as appropriate.

The European Union is a steadfast supporter of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a key instrument of international arms control and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The European Union is committed, at the highest level, to supporting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in its efforts to implement the decision of States Parties, in June 2018, to put in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The European Union reiterates its full support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and underlines the complementarity of its work with the United Nations. We have full confidence in the objectivity, impartiality and independence of the Organisation’s Technical Secretariat and its Investigation and Identification Team”.

EU rejects Turkey migratory pressure

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey. (Image: illustration).

In its statement, the Council acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees. The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.

In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders.

On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.

The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community.

Idlib: Putin meets Erdogan “confidentially”

President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan on March 4 that a face-to-face meeting was necessary amid the escalation in Idlib, Syria.

We always have something to talk about, but now the situation in the Idlib zone has escalated so much that this requires our face-to-face conversation,” the Russian leader said opening the Russian-Turkish talks.
According to Russia’s President, the situation in Idlib must be discussed in a key that it does not ruin Russian-Turkish relations.

We must definitely discuss everything, the entire situation we have today, so that similar things […] never happen again and so that […] it does not destroy the Russian-Turkish relations, which we — and I know that you too — treat carefully and prize highly,” Putin underlined.
Putin reiterated his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria to Erdogan, underlining that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location.

“I would like to reiterate my deepest condolences over the death of your troops in Syria,” Putin said to Erdogan. The Russian president added that “the loss of human life is always a tragedy.”

“Unfortunately, as I told you before in a phone call, no one, including the Syrian troops, was aware of their location,Putin said. He added that Syrian troops had likewise sustained losses recently.

Putin thanked Erdogan for finding the opportinity to travel to Moscow to hold the meeting. He noted that the conversation would begin “confidentially“, as the Turkish leader had asked, and later, if necessary, the two countries’ delegations would join it.

EU Defence Ministers discuss future

At arrival to the Informal meeting of the EU Defence Ministers on March 4 in Zagreb Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat, commented on situation in Syria, and crisis at Greek-Turkish border.

Borrell underlined that the meeting is “not about the current crisis“, but about “future prospects on how to build a better security and defence policy for all Europeans“. The Ministers hosted the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg to put forward priorities in EU military and defence missions.

Our prospect tonight is about how to build a common security and defence policy for the future.”

The EU top diplomat described the situation in Syria is one of the “most dramatic” in terms of human rights since the World War II.

“We are providing as much humanitarian help as we can, the European Union has increased by €170 million the amount of resources we can provide to the United Nations. But at this time the problem is not financial but logistic, that is – how to reach the people, how to get through the border, because the Syrian side is closed, the Turkish side is still opened in some places in order to bring food, medicine and shelter. But, it is difficult to provide those things in the middle of a military conflict” Borrell said.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1235281289860837387?s=21

“We have to call once again for a stop of the military activities in order to give some protection to these people. As far as I know, from the information I got from Ankara – I am coming from Ankara – this is one of worse cases of human distress that we have been living in the last 70 years” he added.

Borrell referred to the diplomatic efforts, reflected in his recent talks with Turkish officials during the trip to Ankara.

“They believe that the support we are providing is not enough. For sure it is not enough, because when we made the agreement in 2016, the situation in Idlib was not the way it is now. But we continue providing support as much as we can and I have been telling them that to push people, to put pressure at the [EU-Turkey] border is not a solution for anyone. It is going to put people at risk and we would like to continue cooperating but not through movement of people, by making them believe that there is an opportunity to pass to Europe, because this opportunity does not exist” Borrell concluded.

EU adds €170M aid to Syrians

“…In all our meetings I had the opportunity to express our understanding for the difficult situation Turkey is currently facing. But also I stressed that the current developments at the European borders are not leading to any solution” said EU top diplomat Josep Borrell adressing the crisis situation at EU-Turkey border. (Image above: illustration).

“Increased pressure at the European Union – Turkey border and unilateral actions are not bringing any positive answer. They are not bringing benefit to anyone. On the contrary it can only create problems and make the situation worse. And the ones who will pay the price are the people – the Syrian refugees and migrants.

“We also talked a lot about the situation in Idlib. Turkey and the European Union, have a common interest to end the conflict in Syria. We need to work hand in hand to address the common challenges. We need to cooperate in order to find a way to achieve this conflict. The situation is dramatic. The humanitarian consequences of military escalations are extremely grave. Humanitarian access needs to be urgently granted.”

“This is why today with my colleague the Commissioner in charge of crisis management [Janez Lenarčič] we have announced an additional €170 million in humanitarian aid to continue assisting the most vulnerable people in Syria, and among this money there are €60 million specially addressed to the humanitarian crisis in north-west Syria. The problem there is not funding, the problem is logistics, the problem is how to reach through the border, in a situation which is in the middle of the war, making every day more difficult to bring help to the people who need it…”

MEPs condemn Erdogan “blackmail”

Greek officials said that in 24 hours between March 2 and March 3 morning hours, 5,183 people were prevented from entering the country,  45 people were detained they added. (Image: social media).

On March 3 morning, two men — one from Mali and one from Afghanistan — were arrested by Greek agents shortly after crossing the border, and loaded into a van with about 20 more people, from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

The new flow of migrants attempting to illegally enter Europe comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country was easing restrictions on those wishing to cross the border to leave Turkey.

Erdogan said his country, which has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is unable to cope with a new wave and demands Europe’s “support”.

“It’s done, the gates are open,” Erdogan said March 2 in a TV announcement. “You will have your share of this burden now, ” adding that Europe could expect “millions” of migrants and refugees from now onward.

We strongly condemn the cynical blackmail by Turkish President Erdogan with the lives of people. The European border to Greece is not open and sending people there is dangerous and irresponsible. What happens at the border is fully Turkey‘s responsibility”  wrote in his Twitter micro blog Manfred Weber, the leader of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament.

Idlib: NATO calls to stop offensive

The North Atlantic Council had a meeting upon Turkey request to hold consultations under article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on the situation in Syria.

“Under article 4 of the Treaty, any Ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. I spoke to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last night about the situation in Syria” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turkey’s request for Article 4 consultations on the situation in Syria.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1233353765476061184?s=21

“And he requested these consultations. Today Turkey briefed on the serious security situation in Syria. Allies offer their deepest condolences for the death of Turkish soldiers in last night’s bombing in Idlib. And expressed their full solidarity with Turkey.Allies condemn the continued indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib province. I call on them to stop their offensive. To respect international law. And to back UN efforts for a peaceful solution.

This dangerous situation must be deescalated and we urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire. To avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region. And to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib.

https://twitter.com/anadoluagency/status/1233363151032397825?s=21

Today’s meeting is a clear sign of solidarity with Turkey. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally and Turkey is the NATO Ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks, and which hosts millions of refugees.NATO continues to support Turkey with a range of measures. Including by augmenting its air defences. This helps Turkey against the threat of missile attacks from Syria.

I thank Turkey for briefing Allies regularly on the situation in Syria.

Allies will continue to follow developments on the South-eastern border of NATO and to consult very closely”.

“…We also stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the Assad regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support UN-led efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. And we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect international law. Because we have seen bombing of civilian targets, we have seen increased humanitarian suffering and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. NATO Allies provide support for Turkey today. We augment their air defences, we have AWACS planes helping to patrol the skies, and we also have port visits and provide support in other ways. But Allies are constantly looking into what more they can do to provide further support for Turkey”.

https://twitter.com/russianembassy/status/1233406197845417984?s=21

Presidents Putin-Erdogan talks might take place on 5-6 March, Russian TASS news agency reports.

https://twitter.com/rt_com/status/1233436705434136576?s=21

Borrell on situation in Idlib

“The war in Syria is now in its ninth year. The most severe humanitarian catastrophe and security crisis is unfolding right now in the northwest of the country. In other parts of Syria we continue to see instability and dramatic human suffering.

“Last Thursday we heard the United Nations Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen and the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] Mark Lowcock briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib. They described how regime forces, aided by Russia and Iran, are launching heavy military offensives with no regard for the civilian population or civilian infrastructure. “We appear to have lost sight of the principle of proportionality”, United Nations Special Envoy [Pedersen] said.

“The intensification of military operations in Idlib has resulted in the indiscriminate killings of hundreds of civilians. Attacks continue on civilian targets in densely populated areas, medical facilities and settlements for internally displaced people. These are blatant and serious violations of international humanitarian law. There has to be accountability for those responsible.

“Since military operations began in Idlib in February 2019, one year ago, more than 1 million people have been displaced towards Turkey. We are talking about one million displaced people in one year. Every day more Syrians are fleeing the fighting and another wave of refugees is quite possibly in the making.

“We also see clashes between the Syrian regime and Turkish forces, plus the risk of Turkish and Russian militaries confronting each other. These tensions could in turn trigger a wider regional conflict. The ceasefire agreed between Ankara and Moscow must be implemented.

“This is the situation. Now, let me say this. After almost a decade of violence, the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the regime and its backers must cease. Too many people have died, and those that are alive face a bleak future.

“The EU has major stakes in Syria and in the surrounding region. We cannot afford more regional instability and another migrant crisis. We must avoid a resurgence of Da’esh and other terrorist organisations at Europe’s doorstep. The EU has a duty to preserve the rules based international order including the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council. Yes, I know, we say that once again and we have to continue saying that.

“Recent military gains by the Syrian regime are not translating into stability, on the contrary. The Syrian regime will not bring peace and stability to Syria if it continues to pursue a military logic and the repression of its people. The economic situation is deteriorating rapidly, exacerbated by the banking crisis in Lebanon. The regime must change its behaviour.

“[Honourable] Members of the European Parliament, we have stated from the very beginning that only a comprehensive and inclusive political solution in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 will allow sustainable peace and stability in Syria and the region.

“The European Union will continue to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy Pedersen in relaunching the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. We also need to focus on other parts of this resolution [UNSCR 2254] such as a nationwide ceasefire, the release of detainees and getting progress on the file of missing persons.

“Let’s recall that the European Union is and remains the largest humanitarian donor in relation to crisis in Syria and to its people, both inside [Syria] and to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. We are supporting the resilience of ordinary civilians and civil society to maintain the social fabric of Syrian society.

“We are convinced that our support is a fundamental investment – it is not an expenditure it is an investment – in the future of Syria and the region which is part of our future. And as a partner in the Global Coalition to defeat Da’esh, the EU is conducting stabilisation projects in the north east of Syria.

“We are always prepared to do more on all these lines of action, within the limits of our common redlines. These are: no normalisation with the regime; no risking of our funding being diverted to the regime or to terrorists, and no reconstruction before a political process is firmly under way. Syria: Speech by HR/VP Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria, on February 12.

“Honourable members, we will continue to apply European Union sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with the regime and responsible for its repressive and inhuman policies, and not the Syrian people.

“As I said before: the conflict in Syria is a geopolitical struggle. The European Union has a responsibility to lead, for the sake of the Syrian people and to protect our own interests. While difficult, we must redouble our efforts to identify common interests with other international stakeholders, Russia, U.S., Turkey and others.

“Maybe I will have the occasion to update you on our discussions in Washington about this issue. ” Strasbourg, European Parliament Plenary, Syria: Speech by High Representative Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria.

MAVRIDES: Erdogan supports jihadists in Idlib

During February Plenary the Members of European Parliament discussed the crisis in Idlib, reacting upon aggravated hostilités between Syrian Army and groups of Islamist fighers, backed by Turkey. The ongoing shelling caused a new ordeal for civilians in de-escalation zone in Idlib, agreed between Ankara and Moscow (2018) to protect refugees and prevent the flow of refugees north to Turkey.

Over 140,000 Syrians have been displaced in just three days under the offensive in the north-west of the country.

Accroding to Astana agreement Turkey was supposed to separate the armed opposition, ready for dialogue within the framework of the Syrian political process, from the militants of Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham (or Hetech, active Salafist jihadist militant group, organised as a result of fusion of six smaller ones). At the same time, the terrorists had to leave Idlib, and the pro-Turkish moderate opposition – to stay, but to withdraw all heavy weapons from the province. In fact, by the beginning of 2019, the Khayyat Tahrir Al-Sham Islamist group had established full control over the territory of Idlib. Provided by weapons and resources from Turkish territory, the fighters started to undertake raids outside the demilitarized zone, to bombard the nearest cities (for example, Aleppo), and to threaten the Russian military base Khmeimim.

Syria’s government, backed by Russia, has launched an offensive on Idlib province and southern and western Aleppo, the last stronghold jihadist armed groups.

Reacting upon the situation in Idlib, the chair of the Delegation to Mediterranean MEP Costas MAVRIDES underlined the necessity to continue eliminating terrorism in Syria, representing threat to Europe.

…Our priority is the elimination of terrorism of co-called Islamic State, and associated jihadist groups, but in has been for some years, and recently in Idlib, that number one supporter of jihadists is Turkey, and personally President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan” MAVRIDES said.

This week through the southern province of Hatay to the north-west of Syria additional military equipment and army special forces are being transferred.

Another convoy with special forces from various military units of Turkey proceeded to Idlib on February 13 during night hours. Electronic warfare complexes (EW) and armored medical vehicles were also deployed to the area of Turkish “observation posts”.

At present Turkish generals are following the order of the President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to strengthen their “observation posts” in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which have long gone beyond monitoring the situation on the ground.

The “observation” posts of the Turkish Armed Forces in the neighboring Arab Republic have become full-fledged strongholds for Islamic militants supported by Ankara, as well as points from which the positions of the Syrian army are constantly fired upon.

Dutch ‘No’ to jihad mothers and children

The Netherlands is not obliged to help actively in repatriation of the young children and their mothers who left the country to join ranks of the Islamic State in Syria, an appeals court in The Hague said on November 22, overturning an earlier ruling.

Earlier this month the preceding court instance said the government must actively help to repatriate 56 children living in squalid conditions in camps in Syria.

All the children concerned have Dutch nationality and are under 12 years old. Most are younger than six.

The government appealed this ruling, citing national security and the risks it said Dutch officials would be exposed by entering the camps to find these women and children.

It said the ruling would negatively impact Dutch foreign policy and international cooperation. The mothers and children concerned are living in poor conditions which could rapidly deteriorate as winter arrives in the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, their lawyer Andre Seebregts told the court, defending the need of repatriation.

In total, around 68,000 defeated fighters of the Caliphate and their families are being held in the camp, according to the Red Cross. They are under the custody of Syrian Kurdish forces after they took the jihadist group’s last enclave.

Government figures revealed that, as of October, some 55 Islamic State militants still based in northern Syria had traveled there from the Netherlands. There were also at least 90 children with Dutch parents or parents who had lived for a considerable time in the Netherlands as residents.

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