Syrian War Will Go On Despite Western Strikes – Britain

Boris Johnson Warns Against Brexit 'Betrayal'
FILE COPY Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson presents a speech on Islamist terrorism to an audience of academics, diplomats and members of the media at the Foreign Office in London. Photo Credit: Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP

 

British Foreign Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, on Sunday said the Syrian war will inevitably continue after unprecedented Western strikes, which were limited to targeting the country’s alleged chemical weapons facilities.

Britain and France on Saturday joined the US-led missile strikes, which came a week after a deadly attack on the town of Douma where civilians were hit with chlorine and sarin according to the Western powers.

Despite describing the intervention as “successful”, Britain’s foreign minister said there were currently no plans for further attacks.

“I’m afraid that is the unhappy corollary of this that if we say we’re limiting our action to chemical weapons… then, of course, it follows that the rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will,” Johnson told BBC television.

British warplanes took part in the strikes, which destroyed sites suspected of hosting chemical weapons development and storage facilities.

The majority of the more than 350,000 victims of the seven-year conflict have been killed by conventional rather than chemical weapons.

But Johnson stressed the “overwhelming purpose” of the mission was a response to a series of chemical attacks in recent years.

“Finally the world has said enough is enough,” he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to face a backlash on Monday when she addresses parliament, which will be followed by an emergency debate, with some MPs angry the government joined the US-led mission without first seeking their approval.

May was to tell parliament, “We have acted because it is in our national interest to do so.”

Britain sought “to alleviate further humanitarian suffering caused by chemical weapons.”

“… We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere.”

A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday newspaper found just 30 percent of people supported May’s decision to launch military without lawmakers’ approval, with 54 percent opposed.

Britain and its allies have since the strikes renewed diplomatic efforts at the United Nations, circulating a joint draft resolution at the Security Council calling for an investigation into chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Negotiations on the proposals are due to start on Monday, a day after a delegation from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were due to arrive in Douma.

The team of experts are set to investigate the April 7 attack east of the capital Damascus, which the Syrian government and its Russian ally deny ever took place.

The OPCW itself had declared that the Syrian government’s chemical weapons stockpile had been removed in 2014, only to confirm later that sarin was used in a 2017 attack in the northern town of Khan Sheikhun.

AFP

Syria War: Russian Air Strike Kills Turkish Soldiers

Syria War: Russian Air Strike Kills Turkish SoldiersRussia’s president has sent condolences after a Russian air strike mistakenly killed three Turkish soldiers, north of Syria.

The soldiers were supporting Syrian rebels to recapture the city of al-Bab from so-called Islamic State as part of an offensive to push Islamic State and Kurdish fighters away from Turkey’s southern border.

According to Turkish military, a Russian aircraft attacked a building where some of the soldiers had been deployed.

It had been planning to hit I.S targets but “by accident three of their soldiers were martyred when a building was bombed where their units were”

Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in the Syrian war and have been jointly targeting Islamic State in air strikes recently.

Clashes Reported In Syria Despite Truce

Syria CeasefireFighting between government and rebel forces has been reported in parts of Syria, despite a nationwide truce, brokered by Russia and Turkey, overnight.

Reports however say, the new nationwide ceasefire between Syrian government forces and rebel groups, appears to be largely holding in the Middle East.

The deal includes many rebel groups but not jihadists such as the Islamic state, or the Kurdish YPG.

Peace talks are scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan within a month, if the ceasefire holds.

At least 300,000 people are believed to have been killed in fighting that followed the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011.

Meanwhile, four million others have sought refuge in neighbouring states or Europe.

Pope Francis Returns From Greece With 12 Migrants

Pope FrancisPope Francis has taken 12 Syrian migrants back with him to the Vatican after visiting a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The three families, including six children, are all Muslim and had their homes bombed during the Syrian war.

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis wanted to “make a gesture of welcome” to the refugees.

Thousands of migrants are now stuck on Lesbos after last month’s EU-Turkey deal to try to ease the flow.

All of those leaving with the Pope were already living on Lesbos before the deal was implemented, the Vatican said.

Syria Truce Violation To Be Probed

SyriaThe US Secretary Of State, John Kerry, has vowed to investigate all alleged violations of the partial truce in Syria.

“We are digging in through the process we set up to find out if in fact a violation did take place or was it in fact a legitimate engagement against Nusra only or Daesh only,” Kerry said in a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Kerry said that while there were reports of violations, the vast majority in Syria had seen a decrease in violence.

“So we call on all the parties not to be looking for a way to get out from under the responsibility of the cessation of hostilities, but rather to help the process to hold itself accountable,” Kerry added.

He says the US and Russia are working on a mechanism to ensure any airstrike solely targets so-called Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda-linked Nusra front.

Mr Kerry however says they have agreed not to debate alleged violations in public.

He added that he was concerned by reports that the Syrian government was creating obstacles for the delivery of humanitarian aid and hoped it would stop its officials and troops from taking medicines or other supplies from the shipments.

In the meantime, aid convoys have begun reaching besieged areas of Syria as the cessation of violence that began on Saturday appears to be holding.

But France expressed concern about reports of strikes by Syrian government and Russian aircraft on areas controlled by mainstream rebels.

 

UN Expands Syria Aid Amid Truce

SYRIAAmid a partial truce in the Syrian war, the United Nations says it plans to deliver aid to about 150,000 Syrians in besieged areas over the next five days.

The UN said that it is ready to help an estimated 1.7 million people in hard-to-reach areas by the end of March.

A cessation of hostilities began on Saturday and there have been complaints of breaches from both sides.

But it otherwise appeared to be intact with a key Syrian opposition group saying the situation was much better.

The UN’s humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Yacoub el-Hillo, called the truce “the best opportunity that the Syrian people have had over the last five years for lasting peace and stability”.

The organisation plans to use the lull to deliver food, water and medicine to towns like Madaya, where residents have reportedly been starving to death.

The UN estimated that almost 500,000 people are living under siege in Syria.

The cessation of hostilities was agreed as part of a plan by the US and Russia, who have backed opposing sides in Syria’s civil war.

It does not apply to the fight against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) or the Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaeda.