UPDATE 1630 GMT: The Assad regime has conditionally accepted the United Nations’ non-binding resolution calling for aid to besieged areas.
The Foreign Ministry said it would “ready to cooperate”, provided implementation respected “state sovereignty and the role of the state, and principles of neutrality, transparency, and non-politicized assistance”.
At the same time, “foreign-backed terrorism” and sanctions against Damascus must be addressed as “root causes” of the humanitarian crisis, the Ministry said.
Damascus insisted the resolution was an “admission” by the Security Council of the presence of “extremist Al-Qaeda-linked terrorism” in Syria and that it “must be followed by steps to force states involved in providing financial and military support, training, refuge and arms to terrorist groups in Syria to stop supporting terrorism”.
The United Nations Security Council has finally passed a non-binding resolution calling on the Assad regime to allow aid to besieged Syrian areas.
Russia had blocked three previous resolutions and objected to a Western-Arab draft circulated earlier this month.
However, Moscow’s alternative text and the Western-Arab draft were merged last week, and neither Russia nor China exercised vetoes in Saturday’s vote.
The approved text expresses “grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular the dire situation of hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas, most of whom are besieged by the Syrian armed forces and some by opposition groups”.
It “condemns all cases of denial of humanitarian access” and “demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities” allow aid. Cases cited include the Old City of Homs, Nubl and Zahra in Aleppo Province, and Madamiyet Elsham, Yarmouk, Eastern Ghouta, and Darayya in and near Damascus.
The resolution does not threaten sanctions, although it expresses the Council’s intention to take “further steps” if the UN text is not implemented.
The resolution also calls on all sides to end violence and attacks on civilians, “strongly condemn(ing) the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups”.
Limited amounts of aid were sent into the Old City of Homs last week after United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi pressed for the initiative during the Geneva II conference with Assad and opposition delegations.
Food and supplies have also been sent into some Damascus suburbs after months of blockade by the Syrian military, following truces between regime and local groups. Damascus has hailed the ceasefires as reconciliation, while opposition factions have criticized a “surrender or starve” policy by President Assad.
Videos: Regime Bombing from North of Damascus to Aleppo Province
Airstrike on Yabroud, north of Damascus, as the area is attacked by regime forces:
Aftermath of Bombing of Hayan in Aleppo Province:
Ansari section of Aleppo:
Prominent Writer al-Bunni Seized by Security Services
Syrian services abducted Akram al-Bunni, a prominent leftist writer, as he left a wedding reception at a central Damascus hotel on Saturday, according to opposition activists.
The activists said Al-Bunni, who was a political prisoner for more than 20 years, was snatched by agents from an intelligence division run by Hafez Makhlouf, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The regime is going around seeking local truces with armed groups while it arrests peaceful dissidents like Akram. Whom does it consider as its real enemy?” his brother Anwar, a human rights lawyer, said.
Anwar al-Bunni has also spent a total of 20 years in prison, and other siblings and their spouses have served a total of more than 30 years.
Senior Ahrar al-Sham Figure al-Suri Killed by ISIS Suicide Bomb
The insurgent faction Ahrar al-Sham has confirmed that one of its senior figures, Abu Khaled al-Suri, was killed in a suicide bombing on Sunday at one of its headquarters in Aleppo.
Sources indicate that the bombing was an operation of the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham, which has been fighting Syrian insurgents since the start of January.
Al-Suri was a personal acquaintance of Al Qa’eda leaders Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Layth al-Libi before his involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Akram al-Halabi, spokesman for the Islamic Front, the leading insurgent bloc, confirmed that al-Suri was appointed by current Al Qa’eda leader al-Zawahiri to mediate in a dispute between ISIS and the Islamic faction Jabhat al-Nusra that broke out last year.
Al-Zawahiri eventually declared that Jabhat al-Nusra should be acknowledged as the leading jihadist force in Syria because of its ties to local groups and emphasis on Syrian issues. ISIS rejected the declaration and broke from al-Qa’eda earlier this month.
3rd Car Bomb in Lebanon’s Hermel in 5 Weeks, Weighed 125 Kilograms
A car bomb that detonated on Saturday in the Lebanese town of Hermel weighed around 125 kilograms, according to security forces.
The suicide bomber blew himself up at a Lebanese Army checkpoint at the entrance to the town in the Beqaa Vally, killing three people, including two soldiers, and injuring more than ten others.
Jabhat Al-Nusra in Lebanon claimed responsibility for this attack.
Two other bombings in bombings, on January 16 and on February 1st, killed several people. Jabhat al-Nusra, a leading faction in the Syrian conflict, also claimed those operations.
Another Car Bomb Near Turkish Border on Sunday Kills 9
A car bomb exploded on Sunday near a field hospital in Atmeh, near the border with Turkey, according to witnesses,
EA sources say at least nine people have been killed and 50 wounded.
According to my friend who is currently on Turkish side of Atma refugee camp: "12 dead, 63injuries after car bomb attack in village of Atma"
— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) February 23, 2014
The attacked hospital has not only treated wounded insurgents and civilians, but also Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham fighters and pro-Assad militiamen.
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) February 23, 2014
Last week, a car bomb near the Bab al-Salameh border crossing killed a number of people. The Syrian opposition claimed that ISIS, seeking to control supplies across the border, was responsible.
Video: The Rush of Refugees to Arsal in Lebanon Amid Assault on Yabroud
A United Nations report on this month’s influx of refugees into Arsal in Lebanon — many of them were fleeing a regime siege and assault on the town of Yabroud, north of Damascus:
Waves of refugees have come to Lebanon — estimated to hold up to 1 million displaced Syrian — since the Syrian military started its Qalamoun offensive last November.