Syria Daily, Dec 16: International Talks to Resume After Kerry Visit to Russia

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PHOTO: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday


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International talks on Syria’s crisis will resume on Friday in New York, following a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Russia.

Kerry had a three-hour meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, followed by three more hours in discussion with President Vladimir Putin.

Afterwards, the Russians indicated that they had dropped their objections to New York as the site for the next round of international discussions, following two rounds in October and November in Vienna.

Kerry’s trip to Moscow came amid days of Russian airstrikes inside Syria that have killed and wounded hundreds of civilians. On Tuesday, scores died in bombing of an oil and fuel market in Idlib Province and a consumer market in Aleppo city.

However, the two sides indicated that they had narrowed differences over the participation of opposition and rebel factions in negotiations, saying that they had narrowed a gap on a list of “terrorist” groups.

Kerry backed away from US rhetoric that President Assad must step aside in a political transition, saying only that it was “unlikely” that he could preside over a settlement: “The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria.” He emphasized that the opposition and rebels should not set a pre-condition of Assad’s immediate departure.

Lavrov said Russia would accept an opposition delegation in New York, if they were under the auspices of a UN moderator:

There’s no question that when the United States and Russia work together our two countries benefit, and I think everybody else does, too. Despite our differences we demonstrated that when our countries pull together, progress can be made.

The Foreign Minister also said that Russian and the US agreed on “some further steps” in the fight against the Islamic State.

Kerry hailed US-Russian cooperation, saying they were “honest with differences”:

We see Syria fundamentally very similarly. We want the same outcomes, we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges….

When the United States and Russia pull together in the same direction, progress can be made.


Video: Cameraman is Killed While Filming Rescue in Douma

While filming the rescue of victims of regime attacks on the Damascus suburb of Douma, cameraman Mohammed Elias is killed by another strike:

Hundreds of civilians have died in regime bombardment of Douma since the summer, with at least 45 killed last Sunday.

Syria Daily, Dec 14: Regime Carries Out Another Massacre Near Damascus


Jaish al-Islam Threatens Withdrawal from Opposition-Rebel Bloc

The leading faction Jaish al-Islam has threatened to withdraw from the opposition-rebel bloc established in discussions in Saudi Arabia last week.

Withdrawal would further dent the effort for a bloc to negotiate with the Assad regime. Ahrar al-Sham, the largest faction in the rebellion, declined to sign the final Riyadh statement because of issues with the composition of the leadership and negotiating committees and the failure of the conference to commit itself to an Islamic state.

See Syria Interview: Rebel Leader Alloush “We Are Syrians with a Revolutionary Project”


Russian Military Repeats “We Are Working With Syrian Rebels”

The Russian military has repeated that it is working with Syrian rebels — even as it is bombing opposition-held territory across the country — against the Islamic State.

Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy said on Tuesday that Russian forces have “permanent contacts” with “more than 5,000 people” of the Syrian opposition, claiming that they provided information for more Russian airstrikes on ISIS yesterday.

Moscow has put out confusing and contradictory statements since President Vladimir Putin said last week that the Russian military was supporting rebel groups across four provinces in northern Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said hours later that Russia was only providing arms to Assad regime forces. However, that statement was overturned on Monday by the chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, who said more than 5,000 members of the Free Syrian Army were backed by 30-40 Russian airstrikes each day.

Observers have suggested that the Russian contacts may be with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish militia YPG.


Claims: Rebel Counter-Attack on Airbase Near Damascus

Activists are claiming a rebel counter-attack on the helicopter base near Marj al-Sultan, east of Damascus, after it was captured by the Syrian military on Monday.

Some pro-opposition sites said the base was successfully reclaimed with the killing of more than 20 regime troops. However, Jaish al-Islam, the leading rebel group which had controlled the base, said fighting is ongoing.

Rebels announced an operations room with five factions for the counter-offensive.

After weeks of intensive aerial attacks, including by Russian warplanes, the Syrian military took the helicopter base, a reserve base, and Marj al-Sultan village. Activists said another 2000 families were displaced by the fighting and 3000 acres of farmland was lost.

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63 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Scott. Still not working for me. I can’t access ANY page on website only way for me is to click the news thumbnail at the very top of the page. Basically i have to wait for Syria daily article to appear on slideshow then i can click on it and open it. This happens with any browser and any device. Desktop or smartphone.

    • This is happening for me too. The desktop site is fine but the mobile version doesn’t have links behind the stories on the front page, so I can’t access them (I’m using Android). Also, the links on the desktop site don’t seem to be anchored to the headlines or any text but to the front page pictures only.

    • Same, though as I said before, articles themselves don’t have this issue. I can click on the latest posts from here just fine, but if I go on, say, 100 recent comments, it’s completely unresponsive. I can’t even reply to comments there.

      • Tundra i think its the main page which has problems. I personally can’t do nothing from homepage, only way to check articles and post is by waiting for the right news item to pop up in the slideshow at the very top, there only i can click on the title and it opens me the page. If not zero and this just from desktop with smartphone i cant do really nothing not even open the news like i have to do from desktop.

      • Guys, get off your cell phones and get yourself a proper laptop. Trying to view EA through a 200 x 100 pixel postage stamp screen is like fitting 14 passengers in a VW. Get real.

        Websites should be optimized for computers and not for telephones. This is not exactly snapchat here.

        Minimum is a tablet. Cell phones – call your better half on the phone and let them read it for you.

          • The problem persist that you are surpporting furthermore
            the Islamic State terrorists nazrallah, khamenei and putin and assad.

            —————————————————————————-

            On August 2, 2012, when Ahmad was 14, he returned to Syria from Lebanon, where his family had sent him for safety reasons, to attend his mother’s funeral. He was traveling in a minibus with five other people.

            An officer at a checkpoint took the passengers’ phones and found an anti-Assad song on Ahmad’s. The officer dragged Ahmad into a small room at the checkpoint, a fellow passenger told the family a day later. The rest of the passengers continued on in the minibus without him.

            Ahmad’s uncle, Dahi al-Musalmani, was a judge for 20 years before he fled the country in March 2013. Dahi told HRW that he went to see several government officials after Ahmad’s disappearance. He learned that Ahmad was likely in Air Force Intelligence custody, and paid more than US$14,000 in bribes attempting to secure Ahmad’s release, unsuccessfully. He eventually fled to Jordan after family members told him he was wanted for arrest.

            When the Caesar photographs were released, Dahi searched for Ahmad among them:

            I went directly to the folder of the Air Force Intelligence, and I found him. (among the fotos of thousands of syrians tortured to death) [he breaks down while talking] It was a shock. Oh, it was the shock of my life to see him here. I looked for him, 950 days I looked for him. I counted each day. When his mother was dying, she told me: ‘I leave him under your protection.’ What protection could I give?

            https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/16/syria-stories-behind-photos-killed-detainees

          • Andre, you mean a desktop PC that your organization purchased for you to perform your job. For personal use nobody buys a desktop PC anymore. People buy laptops.

      • Updating Andre De Angelis

        Rehab al-Allawi, Victim from the Caesar tortured to death Photographs
        Rehab al-Allawi, a Damascus resident originally from Deir al-Zor, was an engineering student at Damascus University before the uprising in Syria. Hers was the only photograph of a woman, among the Caesar photographs of detainees’ bodies.

        Rehab was about 25 when the Raids Brigade, a special unit of the military police, arrested her on January 17, 2013. Rehab worked in one of Damascus’s local coordination committees – loose networks of activists – assisting internally displaced people who had fled Homs.

        After her arrest, the family sought information through personal contacts within the Syrian government. They paid more than US$18,000 to various officials in the Syrian military and security services to try to get information about her and to secure her release but their attempts did not succeed.

        A former detainee, Hanadi, told Human Rights Watch that she was detained with Rehab for more than three weeks in the 215 Branch of State Security.

        “We spent 24 days together in the cell, next to each other,” Hanadi said. “She wanted to see her parents. She would always speak about her brothers and sisters. She was scared for her family.”

        Hanadi was transferred to Adra Prison after three and a half weeks. She never saw Rehab again.

        In March 2015, after the Caesar photographs were published online, a cousin called the family and asked if Rehab’s photo might be among those released. “She looks just like Rehab,” the cousin said.

        Though the family recognized Rehab, they asked former detainees who had seen Rehab in prison for confirmation, as her appearance had changed during her detention.

        Hanadi said:

        One day her brother called me and asked me if it was Rehab in the photographs that were published…. I recognized the pajamas she was wearing, and her face. Even the shape of her toes was the same.

        Quotes from Former Detainees in Same Facility as Many Caesar Victims
        “If you took pictures of the detainees now, you would see people who looked like those that are in the Caesar photographs, only they would be alive….The ones who died are the lucky ones.”
        –Dr. Sami, former 215 Branch detainee

        “When I went inside the cell, someone knew me. When he lifted his head, [I saw] his teeth were broken. He was severely, severely emaciated. He had very weak and short hair. I said, ‘You know me?’ He said, ‘Yes, I’m your nephew Mohammed. I’m the one with the supermarket next to your clinic.’ He started to cry. He hadn’t seen himself, he’d been detained for ten and a half months.”
        –Dr. Karim Mamoun, former 215 Branch detainee

        ———————————————————————————————

        Andre De Angelis, don`t forget to visit the tortured people of the 215 Branch detainees, too. They would like to say thank you to you, too, because you are the one wanting that the horror goes on during the next presedency of your beloved Master of the syrian concentrationcamps.

  2. I have just added Kerry to my hit list. What a pathetic creature he is. Creeping up to the war criminal Pea-brain Putin and ignoring the slaughter of innocent Syrians. Hand me my twelve bore!

      • Very cheap comment there deangelis. So nice of you to read and judge other people’s moral. Let us be honest….you must lack one.

          • Up to 7,000 Syrians who died in state detention centres were tortured, mistreated or executed.

            Details of the deaths shed new light on the conditions endured by detainees in at least five government-run detention centres, which are thought to have held at least 117,000 people since anti-regime protests broke out in March 2011.

            The 601 military hospital in the Damascus suburb of Mezze is where many of the bodies were taken, witnesses said.

            The existence of such locations has been seen by opposition communities as a key driver of the revolt against Assad. None of the 19 bodies identified by Human Rights Watch have been recovered and families have received death certificates in only two cases – both of which said the victim had died from heart or respiratory failure.

            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/16/7000-syrians-died-state-detention-tortured-executed-caesar-photographs

            How crazy Iranians and Russians are calling a massmurderer and torturer for president.

        • Andre is even happy if Putin blows up New York and Los Angeles. And then he was saying oil consumers should pay $100 for oil in order to pay for the budget deficit of Saudi Arabia, and by extension Russia.

      • The West does not target or kill civilians or dissidents. You should educate yourself and avoid going to Savushkina Street. Who knows a cruise missile may show up at the research institute.

      • Many of the former detainees who were held in these nightmarish conditions told they often wished they would die, rather than continue suffering.

        Houry said. “They begged countries involved in seeking a peace process to do everything they can to help the people still being held in Syria.”

        https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/16/syria-stories-behind-photos-killed-detainees

        Andre De Angelis, you should visit Hospital 601 – it`s one Assad torture center next to the military airport of Damascus.

  3. Kerry has let the cat out of the bag and is celebrating too early. He’s basically congratulating the Russians on a job well done:

    “Despite our differences we demonstrated that when our countries pull together, progress can be made”

    What progress ? The Russian bombing of civilian areas in opposition held territory, to force the rebels to accept the continuation of a secular dictatorship with or without Assad, and most likely with.

    There isn’t the support on the ground for such a settlement. Russia and the US can choose who they want to represent their agreed-upon “opposition” and carpet bomb everyone else, but it isn’t going to change the fact that they haven’t been able to take significant territory from the real opposition.

      • A syrian family had paid $18,000 (£12,000) to Syrian officials for information about her daughter, but received nothing. She was eventually recognised from the Caesar files and her death was confirmed by pathologists who examined photographs of her body.

        Ahmad al-Musalmani, 14, is believed to be the youngest victim in the Caesar files. His family learned that he had been detained at a regime checkpoint near Daraa in southern Syria after an anti-Assad song had been found on his phone.

        When the Caesar photographs were released, his uncle Dahi al-Musalmani searched through them and found Ahmed.

        “I went directly to the folder of the Air Force Intelligence,” he told the report’s authors. It was a shock. Oh, it was the shock of my life to see him here. I looked for him, 950 days I looked for him. I counted each day. When his mother was dying, she told me: ‘I leave him under your protection.’ What protection could I give?”

        Caesar, whose identity remains protected, has briefed US legislators on the scale of the death and suffering he was forced to chronicle. He remains in hiding. The photos have been showcased around the world as evidence of a systematic detention policy run by Syrian officials. Assad has denied that mass detention or abuses have taken place.

        Caesar’s claims were first published by the Guardian and CNN in February 2014.

    • What makes you think the US is taking territory away from the real opposition? Is this one of those equivalency things where if you wish to criticize Russia, then you also have to criticize the West?

      • Equivalency ??? Did you read the article ? Ok, many people inc. me have been saying it for ages, but now we can quote Kerry on Russia directly:

        “We see Syria fundamentally very similarly. We want the same outcomes, we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges”

        how’s that for equivalency ? Or that isn’t equivalent enough for you ?

        If you can accept that the US secretary of State, in Moscow, meeting with the Russian President, with no-one forcing him to go there or putting a gun to his head, says publicly that Russia and the US are fundamentally the same wrt Syria, then of course whatever Russia has done or is doing in Syria, the US has been and is it’s partner.

        Something understood since Putin met Obama in New York to discuss it, i.e since the beginning of Russian involvement. So if the Russians fail to crush the rebels, the US fails to crush the rebels – which means the Vienna talks will fail, as they require the opposition to basically surrender to Assad.

        It’s what Russia wants, it’s what the US wants: Kerry: “The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria.” That’s equivalency.

        • “If you can accept that the US secretary of State, in Moscow, meeting with the Russian President, with no-one forcing him to go there or putting a gun to his head, says publicly that Russia and the US are fundamentally the same wrt Syria, then of course whatever Russia has done or is doing in Syria, the US has been and is it’s partner.”

          The Obama administration and Russia are on the same boat, notwithstanding I expect Andre and the like to re-cast their narrative in a new fancy way so they can still live the fantasy of opposing the evil forces of The Empire -and to avoid a broken heart-.

          • I ask Andre, which civilians has the US bombed in the past 30 years. And he answers: Vietnam!

            He must have a time machine that allows him to live in the 1960s.

        • I commiserate with you on the cowardly and treacherous course of action by Obama and Kerry. But the US is not bombing civilians and the non-terrorist rebels, that the Russians do. In action they are very different. And the US is hitting ISIS while the Russians have just put up a charade.

          US is indeed capitulating to the Russians. No question about that. That tragedy and policy emanates from the White House and is unrelated to US exceptionalism and its default mandate as the world’s policeman.

          Any Republican that will get elected except for maybe Paul will put an end to this nonsense and will not tolerate the massacres. So I hope it will not be Hillary.

          If the plan is to cantonize Syria, there will be no need for regime change. But now to do that, the US or the rebels will have to display muscle. It is past the point that the US can scare Assad with a halloween costume. Obama made sure of that with his red line.

  4. We have reverted our basic theme while we work out the issues with access on the new site design. Thanks for being patient with us while we get everything sorted.

    S.

      • Looking at some of the older articles, the nesting isn’t limited, which means that comments will get squeezed down to 1-2 words per line given enough replies.

        Shouldn’t be a problem if this is only a very temporary solution.

      • “”JAI considers withdrawal from Riyadh talks. Final statement ignores agreed basics like state identity and dismantling of security apparatus.””

        There are 15 different security agencies working for Assad – one is working against Israel but the other 14 security services are working against people.

        If there will not happen any change Assad will continue to secure syrian mafia state structures with merciless brute force.

      • Xomeyni was quite grateful to inherit the SAVAK, and the greater part of the organization switched allegiance. Xomeyni’s security apparatus hit the ground running on day 1.

      • That is why you cannot leave Syria (or Libya) to these proto-fascists. The world community must intervene forcefully in Syria and not make the mistake twice. They goofed it on Libya, which is a much easier case than Syria with the involvement of Russia, Iran, Hezb, and the multiple minorities.

        If there is any doubt that the Islamists will turn Syria into another Libya and much worse, this should clarify that.

        But of course the western leftwing postcolonials want exactly that to happen, so that no one dares to help in democratization, in the future. They continuously raise the specter of Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan.

        If anyone here believes that once Assad falls, democracy will be a shoo-in in Syria, then they are unbelievably mistaken. Partitioning or cantonization of Syria will however make the democratic transition infinitely easier.

    • Well there you, Zahran Alloush must have read what Kerry said in Moscow and choked on his cornflakes, sorry, hummus and khubz

    • My money is on that Soleimani would be declared injured and then secretly killed and then feted as a martyr. His time is over and he has failed his mission. IRGC does not take any prisoners. IRGC is the only thing the Iranian regime got, and it will not tolerate any incompetence, no matter how loyal. I bet he is now negotiating for his life. He rather be handed over to ISIS or JaN as far as he is concerned. But then he will not keep his mouth shut. Maybe he could get plastic surgery and sent to Venezuela. Caitlyn Jenner can help him for a fee.

  5. Russia Is Using Space Power in Its Attack on Syria

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/16/russia-is-using-space-power-in-its-attack-on-syria.html

    The best effective strategy for rebels to counter this and Russian genocide crusade against Sunni civilians in Syria is by launching “equivalent” attacks on Russian markets, schools, hospitals, trains, etc. in a tit-for-tat move to protest Russian support for Sunni genocide. Avoiding conventional war and seeking to maximize shock, which plays into Putin’s genocidal hands, Sunnis might strike in multiple places and targets across Russia on the same day, and including pro-Putin targets in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

    As Russians understand this genocide has a cost and this is payback for Russian Orthodox genocide, they are less likely to support such crimes. You can’t defeat an opponent who plays dirty by playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules (no hitting below the belt, no eye gouging, etc.) To do so is to lose especially when so many “democratic countries are willing to play footsie with Putin, Khamenei and Assad (the equivalents of Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini).

  6. 17 minute AQAP video features their efforts in the coastal city of Mukalla (300 000 pop) in assisting the civilian populace during and after the cyclone hit Yemen.
    The most worrying thing is that they’ve done a better job than the internationally recognized Yemeni government, which didn’t prepare or assist at all. They actually managed to conduct civilian evacuations to the north of the city.

  7. List of terror organizations which the Saudi led coalition will be fighting against.

    I might not know Arabic, but I know the script and thus recognize most groups in question. Judging by the groups involved, the coalition is a joke if we’re to assume all are genuinely targeted:

    AQIM, ash-Shabaab, Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Houthis, Jabhat an-Nusra, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Boko Haram, AQAP, Da’esh, Jama’at Abu Sayyaf, Hizb al-‘Amaal al-Kurdistani and even Al-Qa’ida in Iraq for some reason.

    Only one which I never heard of before is Hizb al-‘Amaal al-Kurdistani. Is that the Arabic name for Kurdish Hizbollah?

    • Pretty accurate.

      Daesh is #1. JaN #2. MB #3. HA #4. AQAP #6 (Arabian Peninsula), AQ in the realm of the Rafedin – must be AQI #7, AQ in Islamic Maqreb (Morocco) #11, Ansar of Jerusalem (Beyt al-Moqaddas: abode of the holy) #12.

      The darn moronic thing about Arabic is that the vowels are usually omitted, as they are here. A word may be pronounced in any number of ways, and sometimes only the context disambiguates. Imagine you write a contract and a critical word there depends on the context which then depends on the word in a circular fashion. So a contract may be interpreted in any number of ways. These are just signs of backwardness and cultural / intellectual sloth. And the Arabs had the gall to impose this crappy script by force on dozens of countries and peoples.

      There were just a few Arab traders in Jerusalem at the time of Mohammad. But the wealth was there. It was then occupied on the order of the 2nd caliph Omar IIRC. The Arabs make it appear as if they always owned the place, and the crusades were against Arab land. And western bleeding hearts swallow that hook line and sinker.

      • I know, that’s the biggest pain with Arabic. You can know the script, but that doesn’t make a difference unless you know both the word in question beforehand and the context.

        • **** Trigger Warnings **** – If you need a Safe Space, do not read this. Some people may find this micro-aggressive.

          Take the name of a village in Syria in Arabic. It can be pronounced 5 different ways as the vowels are always omitted. Thus when you try to write it in English which smartly requires vowels, you get stuck. Wikimapia English names are often wrong and they have to get updated frequently sometimes more than once. This even happens to native Arabic speakers.

          You would think they would spend an iota of effort to reform their friggin language, like the Turks and Azeris and Kurds did, instead of killing one another and running shabiha states? Of course not, because Arabic is the chosen language of god and god only speaks Arabic, and changing Arabic would make god unhappy and throw a temper tantrum. The socio-communal stupidity is essentially boundless for Arabs.

          Will be waiting for someone to yell Islamaphobe or something ….

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