Meeting the UN official overseeing the handover of Syria’s chemical weapons, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Feisal Mikdad has hailed “the serious and responsible manner in which Syria tackled this issue as per the instructions of President Bashar al-Assad”.
Sigrid Kaag, the head of the joint mission of UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons, was in Damascus on Sunday on what she hopes will be the final visit for the conclusion of work by the end of September.
After its chemical weapons attacks near Damascus last August, killing hundreds of civilians, the Assad regime accepted a plan to give up its chemical weapons stocks for destruction at sea. However, it has continued attacks with chlorine gas canisters, which are not classified as chemical weapons by international conventions.
Mikdad said that “the productive cooperation and coordination between Syria, the OPCW, and the UN resulted in the achievements that [have been] made”, although “certain countries known for their hostility towards Syria were trying to hinder the process”.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said after a briefing by Kaag last Thursday that Syria might still be hiding undeclared chemical weapons.
Kaag, who has said that 96% of the declared stockpile has been destroyed, told reporters after the briefing that the Assad regime had yet to address “some discrepancies or questions” about its accounting of the chemical weapons arsenal. She said that Syria had yet to destroy seven hangars and five tunnels used for mixing and storing the weapons.
State news agency SANA does not mention any such reservations in Kaag’s meeting with Mikdad yesterday. Instead, the mission head “voiced satisfaction over the achievements that were made and gratitude for the constructive cooperation on the part of the Syrian government” and said that “there are no unresolved issues left”.
(Featured Photo: Man Cries Over the Bodies of Chemical Weapons Victims, August 2013)
Video: Insurgents Destroy Helicopter at Last Regime Airbase in Idlib Province
Footage of the insurgent Sham Legion using a Cornet anti-tank missile to destroy a helicopter, as it arrives to collect barrel bombs, at the last regime airbase in Idlib Province in northwest Syria:
The Abu Duhur airbase has been besieged by the opposition for months and is only usable by helicopters, which bombard villages and towns in Idlib and Hama Provinces.
Video: Aftermath of Saturday’s Regime Airstrikes on Raqqa
The aftermath of Saturday’s regime airstrikes on Islamic State-controlled Raqqa in northern Syria:
The attacks killed at least 50 people, mainly civilians.
Video: Tour of Latest Village Taken in Insurgent Advance in Quneitra Province in Southwest
Video of Ain Basha, one of the latest villages to be taken by insurgents in their offensive in Quneitra Province in southwest Syria:
Ain Basha (see map) is close of to one of the opposition’s next objectives, the hilltop at Tel al-Harra occupied by the regime’s Brigade 15.
Insurgents Ask, “Where Are Our US-Made Weapons?”
The Los Angeles Times features yet another article of insurgents complaining that they are not receiving US-made weapons to fight the Assad regime and the Islamic State:
The criticisms comes from the Syrian Revolutionary Front to the Free Syrian Army to the “moderate” brigade Harakat Hazm — one of the first units to receive US-made TOW anti-tank missiles early this year:
The U.S. weapons shipments proved to be very few. The advanced weaponry they’d hoped for never arrived.
“It was supposed to be a positive sign for additional American aid,” Harakat Hazm commander 1st Lt. Abdullah Awda said. “But as a missile, it is just a missile like what we were already using.”
However, the equally significant revelation hidden in the article is that claims of division between Harakat Hazm and the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra have been exaggerated, to give the impression of US-backed “moderates” standing against Jabhat al-Nusra — designed as a terrorist group by Washington:
“Inside Syria we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusra Front was going to battle us,” [Harakat Hazm fighter Ali] Zeidan said….Then he smiled and added, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”