Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

United Nations investigating reports of chlorine attacks on civilians in Syria

A man carries a child as he flees from reported Syrian air strikes in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta A man carries a child as he flees from reported Syrian air strikes in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta
Stacy Diaz | 08 February, 2018, 12:48

The town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta was under siege on Wednesday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that 34 people had been killed and about 200 more injured in the bombardment.

United Nations (UN) war crimes investigators on Tuesday said they were investigating fresh reports that chemical weapons were being used in rebel-held zones in war-ravaged Syria .

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.S.to withdraw its troops from Manbij and renewed a threat to expand Ankara's military offensive in Syria to this town.

"These reports are extremely troubling and make a mockery of the so-called "de-escalation zones" meant to protect civilians from such bombardment", said the commission's chair Paulo Pinheiro in a statement, referring to promises made by Russian Federation to reduce violence in opposition-held areas including Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.

Rescuers and a monitoring group said warplanes bombed several towns in the Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday, causing buildings to collapse on residents.

The Assad-administration used chlorine gas bombs against civilians in the regions that are now being held by rebels such as Suraqeb in the northwestern provinces of Douma and Idlib near Damascus in Eastern Ghouta.

"We're here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area", Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said during a visit to USA forces in Manbij.

Even as the tensions continue to escalate between Washington and Ankara, the threat of a confrontation between the USA and Russia in Syria is also mounting in the wake of last Saturday's shootdown of a Russian fighter jet over Idlib province. The ongoing fighting and deliberate obstructions by forces were preventing aid organizations from reaching civilians, it said.

A Syrian man searches for people in a fire following regime air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma
A Syrian man searches for people in a fire following regime air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma

"These reports are extremely troubling and make a mockery of the so-called "de-escalation zones" meant to protect civilians from such bombardment", said the commission's chair Paulo Pinheiro in a statement, referring to promises Russian Federation made to reduce violence in opposition-held areas including Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.

Describing consultations between high-ranking officials of both states to enhance bilateral, regional and worldwide cooperation as a valuable opportunity in line with the two countries' interests, Rouhani said, "Today the two governments are determined to further bolster and consolidate all-out ties between the two neighboring, friendly and brotherly countries".

Though he appears to have survived the insurgency, his forces continue to bomb and besiege opposition pockets across Syria, including in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. It said one of its workers was killed by an airstrike while attempting a rescue in the area.

Visiting the Syrian border yesterday, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said the operation is being conducted with great and ultimate attention to not harm any civilians.

"This displaced population movement in Syria has brought some problems for Turkey, because at the moment we are hosting more than 3 million displaced people".

But Turkey views the YPG and ISIS as one and the same, because of the YPG's links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades. Turkey began deploying forces in an observer role to rebel-held Idlib in October as part of the "de-escalation" agreement.

The Syrian government reported Tuesday that the Turkish invasion had thus far claimed the lives of almost 150 civilians, while leaving roughly 350 more wounded.