Syria Daily: UN Envoy to Obama and Putin — Save the Ceasefire, Save the Talks

U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference after the conclusion of a round of meetings during the Syria Peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

PHOTO: UN envoy Staffan de Mistura addresses the press on Thursday (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)



Special: Russia-Regime Airstrike Destroys Aleppo Hospital

UPDATE 1130 GMT: In the latest Russian-regime bombing, a hospital has been destroyed near Aleppo city, causing multiple casualties.

See Syria Special: Russia-Regime Airstrike Destroys Aleppo Hospital

More airstrikes on Aleppo are reported this morning. Nine people, including women and children, have been killed in the Bustan al-Qasr‬ neighborhood. Seven people died in Kallasa, and one person was killed and six injured in Sakhour.

A graphic video has been posted of wounded children being treated in a clinic.

Aftermath of an airstrike today:

State news agency SANA does not mention any airstrikes, but claims that “9 civilians were killed and scores were injured in terrorist rocket attacks and sniper shooting in Aleppo on Thursday”.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has appealed to US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to save the collapsed ceasefire and failing political talks over Syria’s five-year conflict.

Speaking early Thursday after the latest round of discussions in Geneva, de Mistura asked “for a U.S.-Russian urgent initiative at the highest level, because the legacy of both President Obama and President Putin is linked to the success of what has been a unique initiative which started very well. It needs to end very well.”

He urged the US and Russia to convene a Ministerial meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which brokered the February 27 cessation of hostilities.

De Mistura concluded his meetings with the Assad delegation on Tuesday with no advance. President Assad had said before the resumption of discussions in mid-April that he would not accept a transitional governing authority, and the delegation repeated that it would not negotiate over Assad’s future.

The opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee suspended formal involvement last week, citing the continued regime bombing, sieges, and detentions. It also reiterated that Assad must leave power.

Meanwhile, Russia and the Syrian Air Force have carried out almost a week of sustained bombing, mainly on and near opposition areas of Aleppo city. An estimated 150 people have been killed in the attacks.

Moscow had suspended aerial operations after the cessation of hostilities in late February, but it resumed following the recapture of territory south of Aleppo by rebels and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra. The Syrian military and foreign allies, such as Iranian units and Hezbollah fighters, are also hoping that the Russian attacks will help cut the main routes into the opposition-held parts of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Syrian State media has accused rebels of shelling regime-held areas in the city, killing 17 civilians and injuring almost 100 on Monday.

De Mistura said yesterday that the discussions had been “overshadowed by a substantial and indeed worrisome of cessation of hostilities”:

The perception is that it could collapse any time. How can you have substantial talks when you have only news about bombing and shelling? It’s something that even I find it difficult, can you imagine the Syrians?

But, despite the Assad delegation’s refusal to discuss the central issue of the President’s future, the envoy tried to find some optimism in the negotiations of the past two weeks:

We didn’t get into names of people…but actually how to change the current governance. And I must say that the concept of a new government and a political transition with a new constitution is quite a lot already in terms of preparing of what could be the next steps.

He insisted — without noting President Assad’s rejection of the concept — that “the transitional governance could include members of the present government and the opposition, independents and others”.

Video: ISIS Claims Destruction of 3 Turkish Tanks with Guided Missiles

The Amaq news agency, linked to the Islamic State, has put out a video claiming the destruction of three Turkish tanks with anti-tank guided missiles:

The Islamic State has stepped up cross-border rocket fire into southeastern Turkey, killing several people this year. Turkey has responded with artillery fire.

Last weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the US is positioning a multiple-rocket launcher system on the border to attack Islamic State positions if attacks continue.

Video: Kurdish YPG Militia Parades Bodies of 47 Slain Rebels

Footage of the Kurdish YPG militia parading the bodies of 47 Free Syrian Army fighters through the town of Afrin in northwest Syria:

The YPG has been fighting rebel factions in northern Aleppo Province in the last three months, seeking to claim opposition territory and possibly connect the Afrin canton with the Kobane and Cezire cantons in the northeast.

US Clarifies Its “Opposition Aleppo Under Jabhat al-Nusra Control” Statement

The US State Department has clarified last week’s erroneous statement by an American military spokesman in Baghdad that opposition areas of Aleppo are controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra.

Colonel Steve Warren appeared to give Russia and the Assad regime the pretext for their deadly bombing of Aleppo city when he said, “It’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the [February 27] cessation of hostilities.”

In sharp contrast to Warren’s assertion, there are no Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in Aleppo city.

US envoy Michael Ratney said in a statement, distributed in Arabic, that Aleppo is not under Nusra’s control, but that rebels must keep up efforts to disentangle from the jihadists.

The latter part of the statement echoes John Kerry’s signal last week, following the Warren statement, that the US would work with Russia to “separate” the rebels from Nusra.

Jaish al-Islam: Other Rebel Factions Attacked Us in East Ghouta Near Damascus

The leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam says it has been attacked by other groups in the East Ghouta area near Damascus, with several casualties report.

Jaish al-Islam said it was attacked in several villages by Failaq al-Rahman and the al-Fustat Army. The Jaish al-Islam spokesman, Captain Islam Alloush, accused Failaq al-Sham of killing two fighters and three civilians in the initial attack on Zamalka. He said the group had put up false flags on their cars to make it look like Jaish al-Islam started the violence.

Sources in Jaish al-Islam add that the al-Fustat Army was created by Jabhat al-Nusra, after Nusra failed in an attempt to establish and lead a bloc in East Ghouta last year. The sources claim Failaq al-Rahman is also colluding with Nusra, and that dozens of Failaq al-Rahman members have defected and joined Jaish al-Islam.

One source says that Jabhat al-Nusra has only about 300 members in East Ghouta but is magnifying its influence through its involvement with Failaq al-Rahman.

The Unified Judiciary in East Ghouta has apparently sided with Jaish al-Islam, condemning an “alliance to fight Mujahedin”.

Trying to exploit the situation, the Syrian military has sent reinforcements into several areas around East Ghouta, according to the pro-opposite site Eldorar.

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  1. Cruz, like Trump supports the Bad guys in Syria and the Ukraine. See:
    #1: Cruz’ ex co-chair in Virginia heads to Syria, praises Assad
    #2: Trump’s Putin Fantasy
    Trump’s argument that aggression against other states by an extremely aggressive power should be ignored proved fatal in 1938 when Hitler’s Germany was able to grow in power by seizing state after state to the east. Putin’s doctrine, if applied to the Ukraine, would be like an open invitation for Putin to invade any former Soviet-controlled state in a quest to re-establish the USSR but with a fascist dictatorship rather than a communist one. Trump is as ignorant of history as he is of world affairs in which he confuses relations between nations with relations between corporations.

  2. Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources 4/26/2016

    Reuters 4/27/2016
    The Kurdish government in Iraq has dealt a blow to Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria by keeping the border closed for more than one month, an economic and political setback for the Syrian region as it plans for wider autonomy.
    The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria believes it is being targeted by the Kurdish government in Iraq in coordination with regional power Turkey, which is deeply concerned by growing Kurdish sway in Syria.

    Michael Rubin 1/27/2014
    The Turkish government, fearing another successful Kurdish entity alongside its border, has imposed a blockade, and the civil war inside Syria cuts off resupply through that country. The KRG completes the blockade. Kurdish authorities inside Rojava, for example, say that the KRG has refused for more than four months to allow several tons of donated medicines warehoused at the border to cross into Rojava, and Kurdistan Democratic Party officials at the Fish Habur crossing have refused permission for prominent foreigners to cross, including an Italian senator.
    The reason for the KRG position is two-fold: First, Abdullah Öcalan is by far the most popular figure in Syrian Kurdistan; locals believe Barzani has, at best, five to ten percent support, about the same as does Bashar al-Assad in the region. A recent trip to Rojava confirmed such estimates, as flags and banners in support of Barzani were few and far between. The reason for Öcalan’s popularity is multifold: He lived in Syria until 1999, and so many locals knew him. Those who did not could read his writing and philosophy. Many also eschew the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s tribal character. Barzani has done nothing to win local hearts and minds and has, instead, sought to achieve his aims through force.
    The second reason is both diplomatic and financial: Barzani’s business with Turkey depends on pleasing Ankara. If he wishes to retain some of the contracts from which he and his immediate family personally benefit, he must please Turkey’s government and military. Some issues should be more important than personal profit.

    • Long posts……. ,but this is by far more interesting, about the same Kurds (PYD,YPG,YPJ,HRG,MEV ,BLA- BLA … no matter their name … but lead by PKK)
      1. Today Ash Carter (is he still Defense Secretary? I suppose Obama will find to him a better job ..soon)
      US defence chief Ash Carter admitted on Thursday that the PYD and YPG are linked to the PKK, an armed Marxist-Leninist group listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, the EU and NATO.
      When asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham whether the PYD and its military wing, the YPG, are aligned with the outlawed PKK terror group during testimony before a Senate panel, Carter replied in the affirmative.
      Admitting the link between the PKK and PYD, Carter acknowledged that the PKK is designated as a terror group by the US and Turkey but denied Ankara is upset by US air and equipment support to its offshoot in Syria.
      “We have extensive consultations with the Turks,” Carter added.
      But Sen. Graham contradicted him saying that he was recently in Turkey and the government there is not happy with US support for the PYD and its armed wing the YPG, both considered by Turkey as part of the same terror group.
      The US, on the other hand, does not consider the PYD and the YPG to be terrorist groups.
      “They think this is the dumbest idea in the world and I agree with them,” Graham said.
      (I put it almost in full because Lindsay Graham ( as it was McCain) was my favorite ……..)
      2. It happens one month after Barzani said the same thing, but a more nuanced statement

      Terrorist PKK, PYD are ‘exactly same thing,’ says Barzani

      • So, I am curious if PKK hunting season -in Syria- begins today,,,,,
        I mean the “official season”, because Turks are the “bad guys”, is it so?! … they are the real “poachers” hunting PKK all over the year(s) ,but in Turkey…..

  3. Unfortunately I accidentally posted this on the other thread instead of here as it should be so here goes:
    #Aleppo: So why have the rebels been on the back-foot in Aleppo city? The following post I think reveals the probable cause for this “A Few days ago the fsa in Aleppo tried launching a surprise attack including over 500 Inghimaseen, the plan was elaborate and if they…Succeeded then large swathes of Aleppo city would’ve been liberated… Unfortunately the regime was possibly tipped off by someone in the…Ranks, sewer systems which were going to be used in the attack and other surprise raids had the regime waiting, apparently with knowledge…Of the attack… The result was over 50 martyred – mostly from Jaish Al Mujahideen but from others as well.” – Shami_view321
    All the rebel factions should really beginning to develop a specialist counter-espionage unit to weed out such informants, I think they should reach out to the Turkish and Saudi intelligence agencies technical assistance in achieving this because until they do so the above tragedies will continue happening.
    #Afrin: “YPG in Afrin parades dead bodies of FSA fighters killed near Azaz ” – Conflicts
    I state my views again – YPG needs to be expelled from Sheikh Maqsoud and from Afrin province.
    #Observation: “Syrians should payback the “Friends of Syria” denial of help by evacuating all civilians to TR & EU. Men can fight w/o fearing for families.” – Interbrigades
    Rebels can only do the above by creating Gaza-style tunnel networks in the north (ie Aleppo province) and the south (ie in the south), such tunnels are needed by rebels to move out women and civilians and to bring in weapons and food. I hope the rebels consider creating such a tunnel network right now before it’s too late.

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