Syria Daily: After Russia Bombs South, Surrender Talks Resume

Pro-Assad bombardment of Daraa Province, July 5, 2018

World appeals for halt to pro-Assad attacks and care of displaced — No one listening


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    Russia carried out more bombing of Daraa Province in southern Syria on Thursday, bringing yet another resumption of surrender talks with rebels.

    The talks, mediated by Jordan, have broken down twice since last Saturday, only to be renewed after Russia and the Assad regime punished Daraa with airstrikes and ground assaults.

    The attacks have displaced 320,000 people, almost 40% of the population of the province where Syria’s uprising began in March 2011.

    The surrender negotiations have foundered on two issues: whether Russian military police or regime forces will patrol the reoccupied Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, and whether rebels must give up all heavy weapons at the same time or in a staged process.

    The opposition fears that, with fully disarmed rebels and the entry of regime troops and security services, there will be mass detentios and forced detentions — as was the case with eastern Aleppo city in December 2016 and East Ghouta near Damascus in April.

    On Thursday, Russia struck near the Jordanian border, including an attack on a displaced persons’ camp. Pro-opposition activists said Russian warplanes briefly crossed into Jordanian airspace, but there was no protest from Amman amid its consultations with Russian officials, including a meeting of Foreign Ministers in Moscow.

    Bombing was reported across the province, including on Saida, al-Naima, Umm al-Mayathin, Naseeb, Taiba in the east and the towns of Tafas and Yadouda to the west as well as on the Old City section of Daraa.

    Local sources said pro-Assad forces entered Saida after a “brutal attack”, while assaults on Tafas, al-Yadoda, and the Old City were repelled.

    See Syria Daily, July 5: Russia & Regime Renew Bombing of Daraa in South

    Opposition spokesman Ibrahim Jabawi later said the negotiations in Busra al-Sham, a historic town on the border, will restart on Friday.

    Pro-Assad outlets boasted that regime forces and armored vehicles had reached the Jordanian border for the first time in years. Pro-opposition activists confirmed the advance:

    Russia: We Have “Issues” Over Those Displaced by Attacks

    Unwilling or unable to check the Russian-regime assault, the UN and other countries appealed again on Thursday for some assistance for the displaced.

    The UNHCR refugee agency repeated its call on Jordan to open its borders, with about 60,000 gathered at the Naseeb crossing.

    Amman says it can host no more refugees beyond the 660,000 registered Syrians who are already in the country. Jordan closed its border in 2016, trapping about 75,000 people at the time in the Rukban area.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres restated his grave concern and urged an immediate end to fighting. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said an “estimated 750,000 lives are in danger”.

    But as the Security Council was briefed behind closed doors, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia waved away the appeals saying that Russia has “issues” over the number of displaced cited by the UN.

    To enable pro-Assad advances and force the surrender talks, Russia has broken a “de-escalation zone” which Moscow and the US declared last July.

    Washington, which said four times before the June 19 offensive that it would make a “firm” response to any attacks, was silent on Thursday.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The OPCW also found evidence of “chlorinatec compunds” like dichloroacetic acid used to chlorinate drinking water to make it safe.

  2. Reuters pulls misleading headline on OPCW report:

    Chemical weapons agency finds ‘chlorinated’ chemicals in Syria’s Douma
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-chemicalweapons/chemical-weapons-agency-finds-chlorinated-chemicals-in-syrias-douma-idUSKBN1JW2IY

    (Corrects to “various chlorinated organic chemicals” instead of chlorine.)

    The BBC are still running a story claiming that he OPCW has dtermined that chlorine ghas was used when they stated no such thing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-44746147

    A chemical weapons watchdog has found that chlorine gas was used in April’s attack on the Syrian city of Douma. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-44746147

    What the OPCW actually stated: “Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive. These results are reported in Annex 3. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing.”

      • From the interim report:

        . OPCW designated labs conducted analysis of prioritised samples. The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody

        • Please explain hi w Russian equipment removes traces from plasma taken from victims without those samples ever being in Russian custody? The OPCW states that the chain of custody was verified which means at no point did Russians handle the samples

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