LATEST: Russia — US Should Bring Opposition to Peace Talks
SUMMARY: Officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross have said a Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer and three of six Red Cross staffers kidnapped in Syria last weekend are now free and safe.
Robert Mardini, the head of operations for the Middle East for the ICRC, said on Twitter that the four were released “safe and sound”.
ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said the quartet were released in Idlib Province. He said the Red Cross was awaiting information on the remaining three staffers.
Gunmen abducted the seven on Sunday after stopping their convoy in Idlib Province on the highway between Sarmin and Saraqeb. The aid workers were returning to Damascus after a four-day mission to deliver medical supplies.
Latest Updates, Most Recent First
Report: 3 Family Members Of FSA Commander Idriss Killed In Prison
Koert Debeuf tweets:
3 close family members of FSA commander Salim Idriss were killed yesterday in prison. They were imprisoned since 1 year. He told me today.
— Koert Debeuf (@koertdebeuf) October 14, 2013
Syrian Coalition Blames Assad For Darkoush Car Bomb
The Syrian Coalition has blamed the Assad regime for a car bomb that exploded in the opposition-held town of Darkoush in Idlib Province on Monday, killing as many as 27 civilians, activists say. The Coalition said that thousands of displaced families were in Darkoush after fleeing their homes elsewhere in the country.
“The terrorists deliberately chose to orchestrate their attack during a special time for many Syrians, when pilgrims spend their day on Mount Arafah, an important ritual of the hajj pilgrimage,” the Coalition said in a statement, saying that the regime had “continuously tried to create chaos and confusion among rebels and to take revenge on civilians in liberated areas.”
Russia: US Should Bring Opposition to Peace Talks
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged the US to convince the Syrian opposition to attend an international “peace” conference in Geneva:
We very much expect our American partners and other countries, which not only have influence on various opposition groups but also…encourage these opposition groups to continue fighting, to realize their responsibility for creating conditions for performing their share of the work for convening Geneva 2.
George Sabra, the leader the Syrian National Council, said on Sunday that it would leave the Syrian National Coalition if the opposition attended the conference.
Sabra said that it was impossible to carry out negotiations given the suffering of people on the ground.
Lavrov said the statement highlighted the urgency of holding the conference and then challenged the US: “The main obstacle on this path remains our partners’ inability to make the Syrian opposition, which they are looking after, go to Geneva and sit at the negotiating table with the government.”
By contrast, he said, “We are exerting influence on Damascus, it gives tangible results.”
The Foreign Minister jabbed at the opposition, “The National Coalition is losing its positions. It is losing its influence.”
Kerry: “Urgent” To Set Date for Peace Conference
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that it was “urgent” to set a date for an international “peace” conference, with a transition government as the only way forward.
After meeting with United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in London, Kerry said, “We believe that it is urgent to set a date to convene the conference and work toward a new Syria. For our part the United States are deeply committed to try to set a date very soon.”
The Secretary of State continued, “President Assad has lost the legitimacy necessary to be able to be a cohesive force, that could bring people together….There has to be a transition government, there has to be a new governing entity in Syria.”
Kerry did not say if the US would insist on a promise that President Assad will step aside, a condition set by the Syrian opposition for attending the conference.