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Independent probe must be launched into use of war chemicals in Syria - Russian diplomat

Russia continues to insist on an independent expert study of the use of war chemicals in Aleppo, Syria, given the conclusion of a UN special commission on its possible use by opposition forces.

"The UN special commission believes that war chemicals in Syria could have been used by the armed opposition.The conclusion was drawn based on a poll of witnesses," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov posted in his Twitter account.

"This fact once again proves the need for an independent expert examination of what happened in Aleppo in April," he said.

Moscow has called for stopping politicization of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"For our part, we insistently appeal for stopping politicization of this extremely serious question and escalation of the anti-Syrian atmosphere. We reaffirm the impermissibility of dragging out under far-fetched and dangerous pretexts a response to the Syrian government's appeal to the UN with regard to the claimed use of chemical armaments by opposition armed units in Khan al-Assal on March 19," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.


Yazeji on Easter: Dialogue, Coexistence Help Syrians Surpass Crisis

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Patriarch Youhanna X Yazeji of Antioch and All East for Greek Orthodox has stressed that national dialogue and coexistence are main principles to get Syria out of the crisis.

During a religious mass held  at the Mariamat Cathedral in Damascus marking Easter, Patriarch Yazeji said "We hope on Jesus Christ Resurrection Day that Syria will overcome the ordeal and that peace and amity will be restored to Syrians as in old days."

On the occasion of Easter, which coincides with the homeland's Martyrs Day, Patriarch Yazeji urged the Syrians to cling to the principles of dialogue and coexistence to rid the country from the ongoing tragic events. 

The Patriarch hoped that the Greek Ortodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskenderun, Bishop Paul Yazeji and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Bishop John Ibrahim, who were kidnapped by an armed terrorist group in Aleppo countryside while carrying out humanitarian activities, will soon return safe.   

"We share the Aleppo Parish its tragedy and share every family its sadness, but we must transform this sadness into a strong determination to withstand the crisis and  into an occasion to announce our faith in resurrection." Said Patriarch Yazeji, confirming the church's keen efforts to get the kidnapped archbishops released and to attain peace in Syria.

Yazeji urged more unity, amity and strong faith among the Syrians, stressing that "we can reach resurrection when we bridge gaps between each other and keep hand in hand to build our homeland."

"Let's be brave as Jesus Christ who didn't even fear being crucified in order to lead us to resurrection," Yazeji said, calling on the Syrians to be patient and put solidarity and unity as a priority.

Concluding his statement the Patriarch urged the Syrian expatriates to play a more effective role in alleviating the suffering of their fellow citizens in Syria by extending every possible helping hand.   

H. Mustafa

UN's del Ponte says evidence 'rebels' used sarin

Testimony from victims of the Syrian conflict suggests' rebels 'have used the nerve agent sarin, according to a leading United Nations investigator.

Carla del Ponte told Swiss TV there were "strong, concrete suspicions ".

However, she said her panel had not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons.

Syria has recently come under growing Western pressure over the alleged use of such weapons.

Ms del Ponte, who serves on the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said in an interview with Swiss-Italian TV: "Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals.

"According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated."

She gave no details of when or where sarin may have been used.

Her commission was established in August 2011 .

It is due to issue its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.


Easter Celebrations Confined to Prayers ,Masses

DAMASCUS,(ST)-Syrian Christians communities, who follow the Eastern calendar, marked Easter on Sunday by holding prayers and masses at the countries churches.

Celebrations on this occasion have been confined for the past two years to prayers and masses only.

Father Gabriel Daoud of the Orthodox Syriac Patriarchate said in a statement to Syrian TV that the Jesus Christ ,the messenger of amity and peace, is a celebration for all the Syrians.

He hoped that Syria will celebrate  the resurrection of happiness after the end of the  long suffering it is experiencing.

"Easter comes this year amid the escalations of the criminal and inhuman practices of the armed terrorist groups in Syria, "said father Daoud, referring to the crime of kidnapping two archbishops under the sight and silence  of the whole world.

Commenting on the Israeli aggression which targeted the Scientific Research Center  in Jamraya of the Damascus Countryside Sunday morning, Daoud said" the Zionist enemy whose predecessors tortured Jesus Christ ,chose Easter eve to launch a savage aggression on Syria to tell the Syrians that it will deprive them from the simplest forms of happiness."

"Despite the savageness of this aggression, the Syrians will continue to be steadfast till they attain victory,'Daoud said.


Information Minister: National Dialogue, Fighting Terrorism is Final, Irreversible Decision

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi  stressed there is no alternative but to resort  to dialogue in order to get out of the current crisis, restore stability and security and preserve Syria 's unity  and sovereignty,  through having   all Syrians of  various spectrum at the same table .

In an interview with the Syrian TV on Saturday, the Minister added that every made external effort could give added value, but the final conclusion is what is happening in Syria in terms of progress against terrorism on the ground, on the one hand, and the progress in the discussions r to hold a national dialogue conference, on the other.

"Dialogue themes are open to everyone and the Syrians must speak with each other and submit their vision for building the nation, protect its borders and establish real democracy, attained through the ballot box." Minister al-Zoubi underscored. 

Russian position towards the crisis in Syria, the most objective 

The Minister described the Russian position towards the crisis in Syria as  most objective among world countries,  because it initially rejects violence and terrorism , speaks about the importance of finding a political solution  and seeks to keep UN  Charter through non intervention in the affairs of states and away from tampering countries' s  destiny and national sovereignty. 

" The Russian position that fully understands the size and forms of external interference and the flow of weapons and terrorists and the necessary support to it,  corresponds with that  of the Syrian leadership, which from the beginning  stressed the importance of Syrian national dialogue " the Minister said. 

The Minister continued that the  Russian position also  coincides with the vision of the  Syrian government and  People on the need to move on two axis:  challenging  terrorism and restore stability and security to the whole country and activating dialogue with all political and social  forces , on the ground of the  political program to resolve the crisis.

The Information Minister stressed that all political forces and  social parties in  Russia agree  the Syrian government's position, and  for the first time such a consensus  on an issue is  achieved . 

He explained that the UN and European countries pressed the UN  Secretary-General concerning the  formation of a technical mission demanded by Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons incident in Khan al-Asal in Aleppo in order to expand the work of the Committee into all Syrian territories. 

" Western countries resorted to this step to achieve one of two  goals : either to thwart the investigation into the incident specified in  Khan al-Asal  on the grounds that terrorist groups will not be able to evade committing it , or  Syria 's  acceptance  to expand the committee 's work  which means putting it  in a situation similar to that of Iraq 's mass destruction inspection  Committees.

The Minister noted the  external support to the armed terrorist groups as  large and clear, in militiamen , weapons or communication technologies, which all contribute to the killings, which means that there is no "non lethal arms"  support, pointing out European countries  talk on arms embargo is incorrect because they allow  the transfer of arms from their to Syria. 

Official Political and national decision Against  Terrorism  is final, irreversible 

The minister underlined that official  national and political decision in challenging  terrorism is final and  irreversible, just as  and in parallel with the decision to go to dialogue and a political process .

"The Syrian Arab army is advancing  against terrorists, however ,a  general amnesty was issued  and the State Committee is working seriously and communicating  with opposition forces abroad, which is  may be too early to disclose  now," the Minister emphasized. 

He explained that the Syrian people 's  mood has  widely  altered regarding the concept of the use of force and arms against the state because the state is the only party ,not only in Syria but in all the world , vested constitutionally in all laws and constitutions to exercise legal power to maintain  sovereignty and security , but governed by accountability in case of error. 

The Minister continued that the Syrian  media which faces a media war being waged on Syria is open to all discussions, opinions and viewpoints and that the Syrian media tells the truth but not in a smart way, while  biased foreign media market its lies  intelligently . 

He stressed that channels part of the war against  Syria will not be permitted into the country , noting that the Ministry of Information granted 300 entry permissions  to the country since the beginning of the year to Arab and foreign  media means of different trends.

On Israeli warplanes attacks on the Syrian territory, the Minister noted Syrian serious scrutiny in this matter and that when any conclusion is reached : " we will say everything transparently and in public." 

One who Bets Syria Dismantle  is mistaken 

The Minister stressed that  Syria will not be dismantled , and one who bets on that is a suspect and mistaken. 

He went on that President  Bashar al-Assad 's inauguration of  the  Syrian universities martyrs  memorial in the Faculty of Law, University of Damascus dedicates  the vision held by all  Syrians to the sanctity of martyrdom and respect  and veneration of martyrs , noting  there is no family or house in Syria has not been direct kinship to a martyr . 

" President Assad is always present in national  events and occasions and  is carrying out assigned national and constitutional duties to the fullest," the Minister  confirmed. 

T. Fateh