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Al-Zou'bi: Coalition Delegation Uses Language Far From Policy and Politeness

Geneva (ST)-Information Minister, member of the Syrian official delegation, Omran al-Zou'bi said that the rejection of the coalition delegation of the so-called "opposition" to the draft statement for combating terrorism which was submitted by the Syrian official delegation and which is totally based on the UN Security Council resolutions is completely shocking and scandalous.

In a statement to reporters, al-Zou'bi asserted that the coalition’s stance clearly means that the terrorist groups belong to it, and that the coalition represents the political leadership of  the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front.

 Al-Zou'bi pointed out that the draft statement is totally based on the UN Security Council resolution No 1373 and other relevant resolutions on combating terrorism, adding that a discussion was held about the draft statement during which the head of the Syrian official delegation explained   the content of the draft in details.

"The coalition delegation continued the discussion using their usual language unbecoming of policy and politeness, while the Syrian official delegation was maintaining much tranquility and ability to self-control", al-Zou'bi clarified. 

Al-Zou'bi said: "We knew that the delegation sitting before us does not represent the Syrians nor does it represent the ‘coalition’ itself and the opposition. we agreed to sit because if we said this without sitting, some sides would have considered us as predicting, while the other side would have said that we are fabricating lies on them, but now they proved to have no national sense.”

Al-Zou'bi pointed out that there would be no session in the afternoon and tomorrow will be the last session and it will discuss what has been reached during the past sessions, and there will be some logistical procedures to be decided by the UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

He expressed hope that the second round of talks, in case it takes place, will be held in the presence of a diversified opposition so as not to come out with the same results of the first round, because those people are unable to make decisions or initiatives and have no political logic.

O. Al-Mohammad

Al-Mikdad: We Will Keep Working to Stop Terrorism in Syria, Restore Security, Stability

Geneva – The Syrian delegation came to Geneva with clear and accurate directives from President Bashar Al-Assad to seek ending bloodshed and terrorism in Syria and restoring security and stability to the country, underlined Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Fayssal al-Mikdad in an interview with al-Mayadeen TV on Wednesday.

 "We will keep working to achieve the hoped for goals, but it is wrong to think that the three years old crisis will end within a week," al-Mikdad said. 

"The Syrian delegation have submitted some work papers aiming to come up with positive results that show the seriousness of the work to end the crisis, but the so-called "opposition coalition" side refused even to comment on these papers, Al-Mikdad added.

"We will keep working despite the differences existed between the Russian and the American sponsors who themselves called for holding the Geneva 2  Conference and we won't lose the path, because the first item of Geneva 1 Communique provides for stopping violence and terrorism," the deputy foreign minister went on to say.

He clarified that "the US Ambassador Robert Ford plus others are the parties which supply the so-called "opposition Coalition" with certain directives making them conceive that the Syrian delegation is coming to hand over power, which is not only a red line but a forbidden line, because the Syrian delegation will never accept to contribute to destroying Syria."

  Al-Mikdad pointed out that the official delegation had told the UN Syria Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that "the so-called "opposition coalition" participating in Geneva 2 talks is only a faction in the coalition and that the rest of the "opposition" bodies, including the national opposition inside Syria, should take part in the coming rounds of talks which will deal with all issues."

He said "from the very beginning we urged dialogue inside Syria. The sooner we return to Syria to hold national dialogue the better results we achieve to serve the Syrian people and maintain national dignity."

The Syrian official delegation is serious about finding a peaceful solution based on a political process led by President Bashar al-Assad who, according to the majority of the Syrians, is a symbol for Syria and a guarantor of its unity, al-Mikdad said.

Commenting on the US decision to continue arming the terrorists in Syria, Al-Mikdad said: "It is a new crime committed by the US administration against the Syrians," pointing out that if the US wants to play a positive role to solve the crisis it must stop supporting terrorism and sending weapons to terrorists in the country.

Al-Maikdad also referred to the Saudi incessant efforts to back the terrorists to destroy the Syrian state and foil Geneva 2 talks.

"Saudi Arabia released many prisoners, who had been sentenced to death, with the purpose of sending them to Syria to kill the Syrian people," the deputy minister said, clarifying that Saudi officials, with foreign minister Saud al-Faysal at the top, had repeatedly and openly announced that they provide weapons and money to the terrorists in Syria, based on a Wahaabi extremist background.  

Al-Mikdad also criticized the Turkish role in supporting terrorism in Syria through allowing terrorists and mercenaries to infiltrate into the country across the Turkish borders.

He said that the policy of Erdogan's government's over the past three years was destructive to Turkey before it was destructive to Syria, stressing that the current Turkish government should realize that the terrorism hitting Syria now will one day hit Turkey itself.

H. Mustafa

Syria: Innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of the siege of Adra

The Independent published a field report regarding the massacres perpetrated by al-Qaeda affiliated wahabi terrorists in Adra, about 30 kilometers from Damascus. The report was written by Patrick Cockburn,  the Independent's veteran Foreign Commentator of the Year (Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards 2013).

 “They came through the main sewer at 4.30am and caught us by surprise,” says a Syrian soldier, who gave his name as Abu Ali, describing the "rebel"- terrorist-  capture of part of the industrial town of Adra, just north of Damascus. “They chose a cold day in December to attack when there was snow and you could not see more than 2ft in front of you.” Adra, with its giant cement, steel and car plants, has now become one more Syrian town where the army and "rebel" s confront each other but neither side has the strength to win a decisive victory. As they skirmish, locals either flee or cower in their houses with little or no electricity or water.

The "rebel" s who stormed the workers’ housing complex at Adra on 11 December belonged to two much-feared jihadi groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qa’ida affiliate in Syria, and the Jaysh al-Islam.

Khalal al-Helmi, a frail-looking 63-year-old retired employee of the oil ministry, says: “Three men came into our building and shouted ‘Go down to the basement’. We were down there three days.”

What went on in the streets of Adra immediately after the "rebel"  occupation appears to add another grisly page to the list of atrocities in the Syrian civil war. Survivors say at least 32 members of religious minorities – Alawi, Christians, Druze and Shia – were killed immediately or taken away by gunmen who went from house to house with lists of names.

They are also reported to have killed doctors and nurses in a clinic and workers in a bakery who were thrown into their own ovens. Given that the "jihadis" still hold this part of Adra, the exact details cannot be checked, but survivors who have taken refuge in an enormous cement plant three miles away have no doubt that a massacre took place.

It is not easy to get to Adra, even though it is close to Damascus. We took a highway through the mountains west of the capital and then suddenly drove off it on to a precipitous earth track down which an enormous orange truck with a trailer carrying  a bulldozer was driving in front of us. The bulldozer turned out to be one of several making tracks through the scrub and heaping banks of earth to offer some protection from rifle fire. “Drive fast because there are many snipers about,” said an army officer escorting our small convoy.

Our destination was the giant cement plant which a former worker, now a refugee, said once employed 937 workers and produced 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of cement a day. It now looks like an enormous, dead mechanical monster with pathetic clothes lines carrying refugees’ washing strung between big concrete columns. Nearby was a small party of displaced people from Adra looking bedraggled and depressed. They said the army brought them bread but they were short of everything else.

The fall of part of Adra turned out, like almost everything else in the Syrian civil war, to be more complicated than first accounts. An English teacher called Billal said he had been a refugee for a year because the "rebel" s had first taken the old town of Adra in February last year. He and his father took refuge in housing near the cement plant. It was only months later that Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam launched a second well-planned attack down a sewage tunnel that had outflanked the army defenders.

Syrian Army officers said they thought there were some 500 "rebel" s in the big new housing complex at Adra. It is doubtful if they really know because they also said the "rebel" s were digging tunnels so they could move without being fired on. They had local help, according to a former Adra resident, Hassan Kassim Mohammed, who said refugees from Douma and East Ghouta had been living in half-completed apartment blocks. These had acted as “sleeper cells” for the "rebel" s and had given them lists of government employees. An employee of the information ministry, Heytham Mousa, has disappeared with his wife and daughter and his mobile phone is answered by a man who says he belongs to Jabhat al-Nusra.

I asked several officers why they did not counter-attack and retake Adra. They answered that there were thousands of civilians there whom the "rebel" s were using as “human shields” and they denied an alternative explanation that they were short of soldiers. Even so, it was striking how few Syrian Army troops there were yesterday, either at the cement plant or in the front line, where there had been fighting around a bridge earlier in the week.

“They captured it and we took it back in five hours fighting,” said Abu Ali. An explanation as to quite why small "rebel"  enclaves persist in Damascus and Homs is that government forces cannot afford to suffer the casualties inevitable if they stormed them. They have therefore relied on sieges and artillery bombardment to wear down "rebel" -held districts.

There may be doubts about the exact number of people murdered in Adra but not about the suffering of those who have fled to the industrial zone. It is cold even in the middle of the day and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent yesterday issued a statement saying it “was deeply concerned about the plight of the Adra residents who had fled the area”. It had distributed 31,000 blankets and 7,000 mattresses and was trying to provide clean water to 30,000 people. Adra is now surrounded by sand and rubble with occasional Syrian army outposts on top. Even so, the exact position of the front line was worryingly uncertain. At one point, a couple of Syrian army soldiers seem to have mistaken us for the enemy and fired a couple of shots.

A soldier in the vehicle in front of us jumped on to a heap of rocks and waved furiously in the direction from which the firing had come. Around the corner we came on what appeared to be an entire Syrian armoured division but we turned out to have stumbled on a tank cemetery where the Syrian army disposes of obsolete tanks which are left to gradually rust away.


Shaaban: Thursday's Discussion Will Focus on Terrorism Issue

Geneva (ST)-Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban said that Thursday’s talks between the Syrian Arab Republic delegation and the coalition delegation of the so-called "opposition" will deal with terrorism, as UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has become convinced that we must primarily discuss the issue of stopping terrorism.

In statements to the reporters on Wednesday, Shaaban said that the coalition delegation doesn’t want to discuss anything other than how to grip power, and this is what its allies want as well.

Dr. shaaban pointed out that that US Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford stated yesterday that he leads the coalition delegation after he was leading it secretly.

The coalition delegation doesn’t care about Geneva 1 communiqué nor about Syria; all they care about is reaching a transitional period to carry out what its supporters want, Shaaban said, adding that the coalition delegation claims to represent part of the Syrian people, while in fact it only represents foreign interests adversary to Syria and its people.

 Shaaban wondered, "can we imagine that there are Syrians who refuse to condemn the American intervention as well as sending weapons to criminals, while they don’t accept liberating the usurped territories, stopping terrorism and foreign intervention? It is difficult for a man to imagine this reality , but awfully it is so". 

She reiterated that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation wants to stop terrorism, put an end to bloodshed, and terminate the crisis and the tragedy facing the Syrian people due to foreign intervention.

Shaaban stated that the morning session on Wednesday was difficult, but the talks were positive, adding that the Syrian official delegation announced that there is no objection to discuss Geneva 1 communiqué item by item successively.

Shaaban clarified that Friday will be allocated to discuss the time of resuming the next sessions as we informed Brahimi that we will stay just for Friday, stressing that the Syrian government wants to see a diversified  Syrian opposition, namely the internal national opposition.  

In Response to a question about the US decision to arm the so- called "opposition", Shaaban said that announcing this issue now while Geneva discussions are held, reflects the confusion of the American Administration because from one side it talks with Russia and wants to hold Geneva for solving the crisis in Syria, while from another angle it hampers this issue because announcing armament is a real and tangible obstruction to any political solution we aspire to achieve.

"Results of the Geneva conference will be put later to discussion between the Russians and Americans being the essential sponsors of the conference", Shaaban said, hoping that the current meetings will positively affect the Syrian people and their interests. 

In Response to the question about the possibility of conducting Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Damascus instead of Geneva, Shaaban affirmed that this issue is the target of the Syrian government and when all opposition parties come and the real political dialogue begins, then it will be inevitable to convene in Damascus. 



Saudi Arabia Sponsors Terrorist Groups Against Syrian State, Says Damascus

DAMASCUS,(ST)_Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has appealed to the UN Security council to coerce Saudi Arabia to halt its secret and public support  for the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

The call, which was made in a letter sent on Wednesday to the UNSC, came after the Saudi authority launched an initiative to unify the armed terrorist groups to fight against the Syrian state in order to abort the political solution to the ongoing crisis in the country.

The ministry said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sponsored an initiative to end fighting among the armed terrorist groups – The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the al-Nusra Front, the so-called the 'Islamic Front' and 'al-Mojaheden Army' and others- and sought to ensure logistic, military and financial capabilities to unify them against the Syrian state with a view to aborting Geneva 2 conference.

The 'nation initiative'

It made it clear that Saudi Arabia authorized the Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Ben Suleiman al-Mhesni, one of the religious references, to launch an initiative called "Nation Initiative' for immediate ceasefire among conflicting terrorist groups all over Syria.

"The "Jihadi groups" considered that the fatwas (or religious edicts) of Sheikh al-Mhesni must be implemented," the letter read, noting that the 'nation initiative' states that it was launched after consulting nation scholars including Ayman al-Zawaheri , who is described in the initiative as 'nation sage'.

"The initiative, which was laid out by the Saudi authorities and based on al-Qaeda references' fatwas and calls , was accepted by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the ringleader of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohamad al-Julani, as well as the Islamic Front and 'al-Mojaheden Army'," the letter said.

The Islamic Front and 'al-Mojaheden Army' released a joint statement on January 29th, 2013 to stress their support for the so-called the 'nation initiative', while Abu Mohamad al-Julani declared his OK in a video tape.

Public support for al-Qaeda

The ministry underscored that sponsorship of the initiative by the Saudi authorities means a public support for al-Qaeda and the organizations  affiliated to it -regardless of their titles. "It is a flagrant and unprecedented violation of  the UN resolutions including  resolution no. 1373 of  2001," the ministry said.

It called on the UNSC to blacklist the 'Islamic Front' and the 'al-Mojahedin Army' as terrorist organizations along with the 'ISIL' and the al-Nusra Front which were designated as terrorist groups in 1999.


The ministry also called for reactivating the UN resolutions related to the exigency of international cooperation in combating terrorism through obliging the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to desist from supporting  the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

It warned that the UN inaction would foil efforts of the ongoing political solution and would lead to spill over of terrorism in other countries, particularly nearby ones that support terrorism in Syria.

Basma Qaddour