Syrians Struggle To Breathe After ‘Toxic’ Attack

A Syrian boy receives treatment at a hospital in the regime-controlled Aleppo on November 24, 2018. Official Syrian media accused the armed opposition of launching an attack with “toxic gas” on the northern city/ AFP

 

Around 100 Syrians have been hospitalised with breathing difficulties in Aleppo, state media and a monitor said Sunday, after allegations rebels fired “toxic gas” into the regime-held city the previous day.

State news agency SANA reported “107 cases of breathing difficulties” in an updated toll on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said a total of 94 people were hospitalised, but most had been discharged and the 31 cases that remained were not critical.

Russia Urges UN To Ramp Up Aid To Syrians

 

Russia on Monday urged United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to ramp up humanitarian aid, as Moscow said it would dispatch demining experts to the city of Deir Ezzor after regime gains.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu sent a letter to de Mistura in which he stressed the need for more humanitarian assistance in Syria in areas freed from “terrorists”.

“The document notes that government troops freed from terrorists a significant part of Syria with the help of Russia’s air force,” the defence ministry said.

“Conditions have been created for the revival of peaceful life.”

Shoigu singled out a “complicated situation” in refugee camps located in the border town of Al-Tanf and Uqayribat in Hama province, the ministry said, adding that Syrians needed more than 1,000 tonnes of food and more than 80 tonnes of medical supplies.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning a six-year-long war against rebels and Islamic State militants as his army backed by Russian forces now controls the country’s main cities.

Over the past week, Syrian troops have made major advances in the east of the country, relieving two government-held enclaves in and around the city of Deir Ezzor that had been under siege by the Islamic State group since 2014.

The defence ministry said Monday a demining unit comprising more than 40 experts and special equipment had been sent to Syria, adding that they will be sent to Deir Ezzor “in the nearest future.”

All in all, 175 demining experts will be sent to Syria, Moscow said.

AFP 

Syrians Vote For Parliament Denounced By Assad’s Enemies

syrians voteSyrians voted in a parliamentary election in government-held areas of the country on Wednesday in what they called a show of support for President Bashar al-Assad, while his opponents and Western powers denounced the poll as illegitimate.

The election is going ahead independently of a U.N.-led peace process aimed at ending the five-year-long war. Peace talks are due to resume in Geneva on Wednesday as an upsurge in fighting darkens the already bleak outlook for diplomacy.

The government says the vote is being held on time in line with the constitution, a view echoed by its Russian allies. The opposition says the election is meaningless, while Britain and France dismissed it as “flimsy facade” and a “sham”.

Voters are to elect 250 MPs to parliament, which has no real power in Syria’s presidential system. The state is rallying them around the slogan “Your vote strengthens your steadfastness”.

“We are voting for the sake of the Syrian people and for the sake of Assad. Assad is already strong but these elections show that the people support him and bolster him,” said Hadi Jumaa, a 19-year-old student, as he cast his ballot at his university halls of residence in Damascus.

Dozens queued to vote at one polling station where a portrait of Assad hung on the wall. Outside, some danced.

With his wife Asma at his side as he went to vote in Damascus, a smiling Assad told state TV that terrorism had been able to destroy much of Syria’s infrastructure but not Syria’s “social structure, the national identity”. Assad said it was the first time a president had taken part in parliamentary polls.

“These elections do not mean anything,” said Asaad al-Zoubi, chief negotiator for the main opposition body, the High Negotiations Council. “They are illegitimate – theater for the sake of procrastination, theater through which the regime is trying to give itself a little legitimacy.”

The conflict has killed more than 250,000 and created millions of refugees, splintering Syria into a patchwork of areas controlled by the government, an array of rebels, a powerful Kurdish militia, and the Islamic State group. The government views all the groups fighting it as terrorists.

Syrians Vote For Parliament As Diplomacy Struggles

SYRIAN VOTESyrians voted in a parliamentary election in government-held areas of the country on Wednesday in what voters called a show of support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is holding the poll in defiance of opponents seeking to oust him.

The election is going ahead independently of a U.N.-led peace process aimed at finding a political solution to the five-year-long war. The government says it is being held on time in line with the constitution. The opposition says the vote is illegitimate, while Britain and France dismissed it as “flimsy facade” and a “sham”.

“We are voting for the sake of the Syrian people and for the sake of Assad. Assad is already strong but these elections show that the people support him and bolster him,” said Hadi Jumaa, a 19-year-old student, as he cast his ballot at his university halls of residence in Damascus.

Dozens queued to vote at one polling station where a portrait of Assad hung on the wall. Outside, some danced.

With his wife Asma at his side as he went to vote in Damascus, a smiling Assad told state TV that terrorism had been able to destroy much of Syria’s infrastructure but not Syria’s “social structure, the national identity”. It was the first time he had voted in a parliamentary election.

The conflict has killed more than 250,000 and created millions of refugees, splintering Syria into a patchwork of areas controlled by the government, an array of rebels, a powerful Kurdish militia, and the Islamic State group. The government views all the groups fighting it as terrorists.

The government controls around one third of Syria, including the main cities of western Syria, home to most of the people who have not fled the country. The United Nations puts the number of refugees at 4.8 million.

With parliament elected every four years, it is the second parliamentary election held by the government in wartime. Assad was reelected head of state in a presidential election in 2014.

Voters are to elect 250 MPs to parliament, which has no real power in Syria’s presidential system. The state is rallying them around the slogan “Your vote strengthens your steadfastness”.

Britain To Accept More Syrian Refugees

Britain Set To Accept More refugeesThe Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, says his country will provide resettlement to “thousands” more Syrian refugees in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis. 

Although no figure has been decided, the Prime Minister said the extra refugees would come from camps bordering Syria, not from among those already in Europe.

He said that Britain would act with “head and heart” to help those most in need.

Mr Cameron also announced a further £100 million in humanitarian aid for those in camps in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and the Lebanon.

The promise is coming amidst intensified calls for the UK to take in more refugees.

The extra refugees are expected to come from UN camps bordering Syria.

No specific figure has been agreed, but Mr Cameron has previously said the UK would continue to take in “thousands”.

He is likely to make an announcement in Madrid after talks with Spanish and Portuguese leaders that had been intended to cover Britain’s proposals for EU reform.

Speaking during a visit to Portugal, the Prime Minister said: “We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians and we have introduced a specific resettlement scheme, alongside those we already have, to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk.

“As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review.

“And given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of the people, today I can announce that we will do more – providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees”.

Reacting to Mr Cameron’s remarks, UN Refugee Agency spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming said: “We welcome very much the move to increase resettlement spaces for Syrians in the UK.

“Those spaces are going to be critical to the lives and future of 4,000 people.”

EU Leaders Agree To Relocate 40,000 Migrants

eu on migrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have agreed to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

At a late-night meeting in Brussels, the summit Chairman, Donald Tusk, said 40,000 migrants will be relocated to other EU states over the next two years.

However, there will be no mandatory quotas for each country.

New figures from the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, UNHCR, show that 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year and 62,000 in Italy.

The summit Chairman had earlier called on EU member states to share the burden of the loads of illegal migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.

Media reports says that leaders have agreed to resettle another 20,000 refugees who are currently outside the EU.

It is also reported that French President, Francois Hollande, said he expected most of the refugees to be Syrians and Iraqis.

Meanwhile, details of where the refugees will go is yet to be decided.

Migrants Boat Capsize: Captain Charged

The captain of the migrants boat that capsized has been arrested and chargedThe Tunisian captain of a boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday, killing hundreds of migrants, has been arrested and charged with reckless multiple homicide, Italian officials say.

According to BBC, the Captain has been charged alongside a member of the crew with favouring illegal immigration.

The charges came after the European Union (EU) set out a package of measures to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

Search and rescue operations will be stepped up, and there will be a campaign to destroy traffickers’ boats.

A homicide investigation has been opened into the disaster, he added.

After speaking to the survivors, the United Nations (UN) refugee agency said about 800 people died in the disaster. Meanwhile, earlier accounts had put the death toll at about 700.

“There were a little over 800 people on board, including children aged between 10 and 12,” said Carlotta Sami, of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy.

“There were Syrians, about 150 Eritreans, Somalians… They had left Tripoli at about 8:00am on Saturday.”

It was earlier reported that the ship was in distress in the Mediterranean and sent out an SOS.

ISIS ‘Jihadi John’ Named As Mohammed Emwazi

isThe masked Islamic State IS militant known as “Jihadi John”, who has been pictured in the videos of the beheading of Western hostages, has been named as Mohammed Emwazi.

Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid-20s from west London, He is a British computer programming graduate from a well-to-do London family.

Emwazi first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the US journalist James Foley.

He was later thought to have been pictured in the videos of the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker, David Haines, British taxi driver, Alan Henning and American aid worker, Abdul-Rahman Kassig also known as Peter.

The black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent was shown in videos released by Islamic State IS, apparently decapitating hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians.

The 26-year-old militant used the videos to threaten the West, admonish its Arab allies and taunt President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron before petrified hostages cowering in orange jump suits.

Emwazi’s name was first disclosed by the Washington Post, citing unidentified former associates, but two U.S. government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to Reuters that investigators believed Jihadi John was Emwazi.

Jihadi John became a menacing symbol of Islamic State brutality and one of the world’s most wanted men.

Hostages called him John as he and other Britons in IS had been nicknamed the Beatles.

Emwazi who was born in Kuwait, came to Britain aged 6 and graduated with a computer programming degree from the University of Westminster before coming to the attention of Britain’s main domestic intelligence service, MI5