Syria: A State that Withstood a Global War and Emerged Victorious (Part I)

 March 21, 2023

Illustrative photo prepared by Al-Manar Website on the 12th anniversary of the war in Syria.

Somaya Ali

Translated by Areej Fatima Husseini

“No external factor enables a government or an army to stabilize, unless this government and this army enjoy a popular support that safeguard them.”

Egypt’s former Assistant Foreign Minister Hussein Al-Haridi in a recent interview

The pre-planned war in Syria has spanned twelve years and is still ongoing. It is well known that this warfare is not limited to battlegrounds but rather takes various economic, social, and political forms, in a bid to deplete President Bashar Al-Assad’s government. Surprisingly, all of these endeavors, however, were futile.

The Gloomy Tunnel

The arrest of two men in Daraa in March 2011 and the eventual outbreak of sporadic demonstrations in several regions, formed the full-fledged launch of a bloody scenario or even a global war that later appeared that it has been previously plotted. That was at a time when the entire region was experiencing “revolutions” dubbed as the “Arab Spring.”

It has been clear that all intents and schemes including the normalization of ties with the Zionist enemy- through subduing all resistance movements- as well as compensating for the defeat in Iraq, pass through Syria.

Soon after, Western powers, led by the United States, joined Arab countries in raising slogans such as “the freedom of the Syrian people” and “human rights in Syria.” Such moves were aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government’s legitimacy, neglecting thousands of Syrians who protested in support of President Al Assad.

In June 2012, world powers assembled in Geneva to declare “the necessity of a political transition.”

This declaration was only a pretext for escalating the demonstrations into a major military clash, resulting in the formation of organizations such as the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and the ” Jaysh al-Islam” (Army of Islam). These organizations comprised Syrians as well as a significant number of mercenaries from other Arab and Western countries, all with diverse backgrounds and agendas, who flocked to attack Damascus.

Since then, Syria has entered a dark tunnel: the country’s unity and sovereignty have been shattered, with almost all areas divided into pro and anti-regime factions. The emergence of Takfiri factions such as “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and “Ahrar Al-Sham” on the battlefield heightened the tensions.

Then in January 2014, the ISIL terrorist group took control of Raqqa and set out to govern vast areas of Syria and Iraq. Backed by regional and Western governments, these organizations have committed the most heinous terrorist acts against the Syrian people, as well as looting riches and systematically destroying the country’s infrastructure.

In addition to the military conflict, fierce media campaigns have intensified, relying on false flag chemical attacks in a bid to defame the Syrian government while disregarding the crimes committed by so-called “opposition factions.”

Syria Battles Bravely

Amid this reality, the Syrian state and its army stood firmly to protect the governing system and fortify Damascus, which had become a target for terrorists. The fall of the capital would have dealt President Assad a tremendous blow.

In September 2014, the US directly engaged in the struggle, organizing a coalition and assisting Kurdish factions under the pretext of eradicating “ISIL” in northern Syria. Later in 2015, and under the request of the Syrian government, Russia joined the war in a bid to aid Damascus in counter-terror operations.

This was a crucial turning point in the warfare, along with Iran’s and Hezbollah’s key roles in the battlefield and victories in more than one strategic battle, such as the clashes of Qusayr and Aleppo.

This video diplays scene of the couter-terror operations in Syria.

Such turning point reflected on Damascus’ recontrol of swathes of the Syrian territory, as well as keeping the threat of terror away from the capital and Aleppo. This was in addition to preventing Turkey, which aided the armed groups, from reaching its aim of dominating that region and eventually beating “ISIL” in the Syrian Badiya battles.

At the time when the military developments were unfolding in Syria, there was a political course emerging. Hence, when Russia, Iran, and the Syrian Army imposed a new status quo in the battlefield, the “Astana Talks” was established. The peace process came after the West and the UN yielded no substantive progress in the negotiations between the government and the so-called opposition, which remained split and withdrew the battlefield in favor of terrorist organizations.

Wary of Kurdish presence in Syria’s north, Turkey joined, afterwards, the Astana Talks as a guarantor state. This political process, which culminated in several rounds, concluded in a settlement, primarily brokered by the Russians and Turks in September 2018. The settlement involved Idlib and the northwest, which has been under terrorist control, resulting in a halt to fighting on those fronts.

Syria’s Outlook in 2020

On the eve of 2020, the Syrian state maintained control, as it had not done for the past nine years, except in the north, where the conflict created a kind of status quo represented by the limited presence of the US forces through several military bases. Undoubtedly, those bases were later utilized as a springboard for stealing oil and wheat. Also, there was a limited Turkish presence in the area under the pretext of countering the so-called Kurdish expansion.

On the other hand, the Israeli enemy found no means to voice concern over the failure of its allies and the victory of its foes. Thereupon, it occasionally breaches Syria’s airspace and launches strikes.

Despite this scenario in the country’s north, almost 12 years of war did not affect Syria’s Arabian identity, as the idea of its federalization had been buried.

This war has resulted in creating a powerful “Axis of Resistance” that extends from Iran through Iraq to Syria, then to Lebanon and Palestine. Consequently, Washington unleashed an economic warfare through the “Caesar” sanctions, depleting the Syrians who stood by their government.

In mid-2020, the Coronavirus pandemic spread all over the world, resulting in a stalemate in the Syria negotiations. Yet, the sanctions remained the most prominent feature in Syrians’ diaries.

Then in 2022, when the pandemic subsided, the war between Russia and the West in Ukraine commenced, casting a shadow across the entire world. The impasse was broken here by multiple communications reaching the gates of the presidential palace in Damascus, indicating what may be dubbed the “great turning point.” So, what happened, and what were the causes and effects?

To be continued in Part II.

Source: Al-Manar Website

Assad: Earthquake Repercussions Belong to Cumulative Case of War, Terrorist Sabotage, Embargo & Its Effects

Feb 17, 2021

By Staff, SANA

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad gave a speech on Thursday night in which he tackled the repercussions of the earthquake that struck the country.

“A homeland is a home, and its protection is a duty, regardless of the type and magnitude of the challenge, and regardless of the capabilities. This was the case since the first moments of the earthquake,” Assad underlined at the beginning of his speech.

The Syrian president’s speech detailed all repercussions of the tragedy, stating the following:

This deep and overwhelming sense towards the homeland, our home, Syria, was felt by the one family inhabiting it, individuals and institutions. And there was this massive surge on the part of everyone to protect, save and help their brothers and sisters affected by the earthquake in Aleppo, Lattakia and Hama. This national patriotic and humanitarian scene is not surprising for any of us; for we have felt it at different turns of the war on Syria. But now, it is clearer and more comprehensive. More importantly, it is more expressive, for it comes after twelve years of war and embargo, with the accompanying death, sabotage and lack of resources on the national level.

However, despite the cruelty of all this, it has not changed the essence of our feeling and our thinking towards each other and towards the homeland, whether it is the land or the people inhabiting it, towards its concepts, customs and traditions.

If this war has exhausted and drained a lot of the national resources, and weakened the capabilities to face more crises, this war itself gave the Syrian society the expertise and the ability to act quickly and effectively in the early hours of the earthquake.

The magnitude of the disaster and the tasks that we should all shoulder are much larger than the available capabilities. However, what our society, its individuals and institutions, was capable of doing was also much larger than the available capabilities. This was not only because of the war and the sanctions, but also because Syria has not been an earthquake area for about two and a half centuries. Neither the buildings nor the institutions nor the equipment were prepared for different types of natural disasters. This made it the first challenge of its kind, and the largest of its kind. Nothing compensated for those weaknesses except the quick and highly effective response of the government, civil-society organizations and individuals who volunteered in the rescue work, those who made in kind or financial donations, residents and expatriates. They have tried every possible way to break the embargo in order to provide every possible assistance to their disaster-affected brothers and sisters. This is in addition to the emergency aid sent by sisterly and friendly countries, which constituted a significant support for the national efforts to alleviate the impact of the earthquake and save many of the injured.

However, from the experiences of other countries in this area, earthquakes have immediate and long-term effects. What we shall face for months and years, in terms of economic, social and service challenges is no less important than what we faced during the first days. And it needs a lot of thinking, dialogue, solidarity and organization on the part of all national sectors. It is important not to look at the repercussions as a separate case related exclusively to the earthquake; for it is a cumulative case of war, terrorist sabotage, the embargo and its effects and of the earthquake recently. Added to this are faults that have accumulated in different sectors for decades before the war.

The scene might look complicated, and it might be difficult to categorize the reasons leading to each problem separately. But it might give us an opportunity to solve those accumulated problems in an interrelated manner. This means moving from addressing the negative aspects of the emergency conditions into the positive aspects of comprehensive treatment. And it means moving forward instead of standing fixed in facing crises. This cannot happen all at once, but in a prioritized manner depending on the available capabilities, and in stages. But what is important is having the vision based on a national consensus and a broad dialogue.

But even then, we need to continue dealing with the repercussions of the earthquake step by step. After completing the rescue stage, providing emergency shelters and the basic requirement in terms of food, clothes and medicine, which have been done so far. The relevant government institutions have started to provide temporary housing, until permanent housing is provided at a later stage.

Creating a fund for supporting the affected people is under study. The fund aims at supporting them until they become capable of restoring the different aspects of their life capabilities. This will happen after the damage is assessed, and criteria are drawn for the identification of those covered and the support provided. All this should be done in parallel with curbing economic decline which usually hits affected areas and impacts the national economy in general. The necessary legislation will be passed and measures taken in order to alleviate the economic burdens on their population and accelerate the economic cycle there. These have been started to be examined before being presented for discussion and taking the appropriate decisions in the next few days. There are also some other ideas which have been proposed recently and will be announced by the relevant institutions, after being properly examined, discussed and their feasibility ensured.

When societies suffer different kinds of earthquakes, geological, political, military, cultural, social or other kinds of violent tremors, they are bound to lose part of their stability, because their institutional and social controls are shaken. This includes laws, regulations, concepts, traditions and morals. This, in turn, gives rise to negative aspects already there, but have been latent or limited as a result of those controls.

Enthusiasm and vigor in treating these manifestations which appear on the surface are necessary in crises, provided they are based on wisdom and awareness, on facts not exaggeration and illusions. So, let’s look for the truth instead of promoting rumors which have eclipsed scenes of heroism, sacrifice, devotion, solidarity and the unlimited enthusiasm we have seen during the hours and days which followed the earthquake. For they will send messages of frustration to all those who have made that amazing and extraordinary patriotic scene, and promote instead an image at odds with the pure and honorable image we have drawn in the minds of others.

Is there an event, small or large, that can obscure the images of heroism projected by our national civil and military institutions, civil society, and individual volunteers involved in rescue work like a beehive, day and night? They are credited with all that has been achieved. They have born the homeland, with all its hopes and pain, in unlimited enthusiasm and forbearance and great sacrifice. They have embodied the homeland in all its beautiful meanings and noble values.

Was it this spontaneous popular surge to support the disaster-affected with a flood of good that suspended their poverty and need? It was a surge of activity and feeling which equaled the well-off, who gave without being asked, and the needy, who cut some of their limited resources and daily sustenance in order to help a disaster affected person. They have been a real and live model of morals in their noblest manifestations, patriotism in its deepest meanings and humanity in its most sublime attributes.

Can we ever forget those who have mobilized in order to defend the real image of our society in the different mass and social media, not allowing the distorted image that some people have been trying to market to affect our reputation as a society, and preventing that image from affecting its morals, solidarity and altruism, which is the highest value on the individual and collective levels?

There are many other stories and endless details, individuals, heroes, courageous and valiant persons who stand as role models for the present and guiding lights for the future.

For all those, residents and expatriates, who alleviated this painful tragedy with what they could, materially and morally, with something or with a word, we don’t say thank you, because loving one’s homeland, serving and defending it is a duty that does not require thanks, but we say to them: we are proud of you, and your homeland is proud of you.

In the midst of our pain and sadness for the victims, our pride in our compatriots, we should not omit to thank all the countries which have stood with us from the first hours of the disaster, our Arab brothers and our friends whose kind and field assistance have made the greatest impact in strengthening our capabilities to face the difficult circumstances in those critical hours.

I would like to thank in particular the rescue teams from different countries which took active part in rescue operations and continued to work until the last moments of hope of finding a live person under the rubble. They conducted their work with the same enthusiasm and devotion as their Syrian colleagues. They were real brothers. So, on behalf of every Syrian, we thank them and are grateful to them.

All of us in this homeland, Muslims and Christians, believe in God; and believing in God means believing in God’s will. For us, God’s will is a destiny which brings us things we like and things we dislike. If we are not in a position to comprehend God’s wisdom in the calamities and graces which befall us, and their reasons, we are certainly in a position to learn the lessons from them. The first and most important thing which we should learn from this tough experience, now that we have been able, together, with all parts of our spectrum and sectors, to overcome our circumstances and limited capabilities, is to believe in our own tremendous capabilities, and to believe that our solidarity enables us to do it and that our fragmentation stifles it.

So, let’s believe in God, believe in our homeland, in the will capable of making miracles when we possess it, in order for Syria to remain proud of its people, strong in its history, rich in its dignity, capable in its will.

What happened on February 6 in Syria and northern Alexandretta – Geologist Ammar Ajeeb
Special and continuous coverage of the repercussions of the devastating earthquake 2/17/2023, presented and interviewed by Bushra Zaini
Al-Ekhbariya camera monitors the conditions of the affected people and the damage caused by the earthquake in the village of Astamu in the countryside of Lattakia

The Syrian Earthquake Has United the Arab World

Steven Sahiounie


Close to 9 million people in Syria have been affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, 65 seconds in duration on February 6, that Turkish President Erdogan has compared with the power released by atomic bombs. The hardest hit areas are Latakia, Aleppo, and Idlib.

The UN estimates that more than 4.2 million people have been affected in Aleppo province with 400,000 homeless, and 5,000 buildings declared unlivable. Aleppo has more than 1,600 dead and 10,000 injured.

The province of Idlib is a total population estimated at 3 million, but because there is no government or authority there, we can only guess how many have been affected.

UAE Aid plane landing in Aleppo International Airport

The UN says 5.5 million Syrians are without a home after the earthquake, with more than 7,400 buildings having been destroyed completely, or partially in Syria.

In Latakia, there are 820 dead, 142,000 homeless, and over 2,000 injured, with 102 buildings completely collapsed, and others condemned.

A total of 58 trucks have crossed from Turkey to north-west Syria through the Bab al Hawa crossing point over the past five days, carrying aid such as food, tents, and medicines. Those trucks are solely supplying Idlib, under the occupation of the armed group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Eleven trucks have gone through the newly opened border crossing of Bab al Salam today, carrying non-food items such as blankets, and mattresses.

Iraqi AAid plan landing in Damascus international Airport

Location matters in this quake

The map will show that Aleppo, Syria is just south of Gaziantep, Turkey which was the epicenter. Aleppo was heavily damaged in the earthquake, adding more misery to a city that was under the occupation of Al Qaeda terrorists in the eastern section until being liberated in December 2016.

Looking at a map, you see that Latakia is a 2 ½ hour drive west of Aleppo on the M4 highway. It seems like a long distance, but the power of the 7.8 magnitude brought the epicenter and Latakia together because they share the same fault line, which Aleppo does not.

Tunisian Aid plane landing in Aleppo International Airport

UN: no roadblocks to aid, no politics

Rula Amin, UN Refugee Agency Senior Communications Advisor, urged cooperation among nations to help Turkey and Syria. She said there should be no roadblocks to assistance for people in need. Referring to the UN and western aid coming almost exclusively to Idlib, and by-passing those in need in Latakia and Aleppo, she urged all to put politics aside, and focus on getting aid to those in need regardless of whether they are in the US-EU supported area in Idlib, or whether they live in Aleppo and Latakia under the Syrian administration from Damascus. Amin is no stranger to Syria. In March 2011, Amin was one of the very first international journalists in Deraa, covering what she had claimed was a ‘popular uprising’, and even interviewed the cleric who was the key player of the Obama-designed US-NATO attack on Syria for ‘regime change

.’ She did not go as far as to demand the lifting of all US-EU sanctions on Syria to send aid, but her meaning was clear. The sanctions prevent aid from arriving in Damascus. On February 9 the US Department of the Treasury issued General License 23, which allows for a humanitarian waiver of supplies to government-controlled areas in Syria, but must be received by an NGO and not the Syrian government. The 180-day waiver is far too short, as the need is enormous, and will people will need years to grapple with the damages.  Rebuilding homes and businesses may take a decade or more. Also, most governments abroad would be sending official aid to Syria through a government-to-government mechanism, and using an NGO is a tedious stipulation designed to discourage aid from being sent.

Who gave to Damascus?

On Tuesday, a plane landed from Saudi Arabia at the Aleppo International Airport, carrying 35 tons of humanitarian aid.  Aid to Damascus also arrived from: ChinaRussia, AlgeriaIraqIranUAE, BangladeshLibyaBelarusJordanCuba, Venezuela, Tunisia, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Cyprus, Hungary, India, and Sudan.

Jordanian Aid plane landing in Damascus international Airport

Italy sent two planeloads of aid to Beirut, Lebanon to be transported to Syria by land. This demonstrates the extreme fear that western allies of the US have of the sanctions. By sending the aid to Lebanon, which is not sanctioned, Italy feels more comfortable that the US Treasury will not issue massive penalties against them.

Who refused aid to Damascus?

The US, the EU, and all US allies such as Canada have sent nothing to Syria for the earthquake-ravaged zones of Latakia and Aleppo.  According to America, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the allies of the US, there is no place called Syria.  There is only a small, rural agricultural province called Idlib.  Syria is 10,000 years old, and Damascus and Aleppo both tie as the undisputed oldest inhabited cities on earth.  But the great minds in Washington, DC. only acknowledge the tiny area called Idlib.  The terrorist-controlled Idlib is suffering, and has innocent unarmed civilians in need of help; however, Latakia, and Aleppo are far bigger and have sustained more deaths, injuries, and structural damages than Idlib. The US and the west have used politics to judge who gets helped, and who is forgotten. The Syrian people will never forget this. The US and EU sanctions have made life unbearable in Syria before the earthquake of the century, and now when politics should be set aside for humanitarian needs, the US doggedly holds on to their dogmatic ideology to make sure the Syrian people know the full disdain of the American government. The Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates visited Damascus and met with President Assad after the quake, in an act of defiance of US-dictated policy.

Algerian aid plane in Aleppo International Airport

Where is Government controlled Syria?

The US-NATO attack on Syria beginning in March 2011 has resulted in three separate administrations in Syria.  The biggest territory, about 75%, is the central government in Damascus. Aleppo and Latakia are the two hardest hit by the earthquake which is under the Damascus administration.

The second administration is the province of Idlib, which is an olive-growing region between Latakia and Aleppo. There is no government there.  The 3 million persons there live under the occupation of an armed terrorist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly called Jibhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. The terrorists embedded themselves there in 2012, and until now are safe from attack because the US, EU, and UN all lobby for their protection, and aid. The US supports the Al Qaeda terrorists because they represent the US interests in Syria to be decided upon in a final political settlement in Syria under the auspices of the UN.

The third administration is the Kurdish self-proclaimed region of the northeast, where the US military is occupying the Syrian oil wells, and allowing the Kurds to sell the stolen oil in Iraq to cover their expenses. This area was not affected by the earthquake. This administration exists separate from Damascus only because of the US military illegal occupation

Where is Idlib?

Many of the residents of Idlib most affected by the earthquake have had to sleep outside among the olive groves, in freezing temperatures. The UN acknowledged the international response to Idlib has been a failure.

Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, an award-winning video troupe headquartered in Washington, DC. has denounced the UN as incompetent in their response to the needs in Idlib. The White Helmets work solely in Idlib and have international donors. Al-Saleh was angry after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Syrian President Assad had agreed to allow UN aid deliveries to the area through two border crossings from Turkey for three months. The White Helmets and the terrorists do not recognize the Syrian government.  Damascus had tried to send aid to Idlib, but the terrorists turned it back saying, “We don’t want help from the enemy.”  Previously the UN trucks of aid to Idlib were also stalled after the terrorists demanded a $1,000 fee for each of the 10 trucks.

Why are the borders controlled?

The Syrian government has controlled the border crossings of Syria for security reasons. Serena Shim, an American journalist from Detroit, witnessed and reported seeing a UN food truck carrying Al Qaeda terrorists, and their weapons, from Turkey into Syria near Idlib. She was murdered in Turkey just days after publishing her report.

The terrorists in Idlib are contained in a small area and have weapons including missiles which have frequently been directed at Latakia, and Kessab, a small Christian Armenia village just north of Latakia. The Syrian government wants to keep the weapons from flowing into Idlib while allowing UN, and other humanitarian aid to flow into the 3 million civilians who are held there as human shields.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

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Syria disaster exposed US true face; major threat to world peace: IOL

12 Feb 2023

Source: IOL + Al Mayadeen English

By Al Mayadeen English 

A piece for the IOL outlines how the US sanctions against Syria reveal the fallacy that underlines the US humanitarian claims.

Members of the Algerian rescue team and Syrian Arab Army soldiers search for survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake in Aleppo, Syria February 8, 2023. (Reuters)

International calls, spearheaded by China, demanded that the US lift its unilateral sanctions against Syria amid ongoing efforts to find survivors following the devastating earthquake that struck the country last Monday.

According to a piece by Abbey Makoe for the IOL, a South African newspaper, thousands of lives have been lost as a result of the catastrophic earthquake that hit both Syria and Turkey. While humanitarian aid to Turkey was “relatively smooth”, Makoe reported, that in Syria, unilateral sanctions “are frustrating efforts to transport aid to Syria.”

It is worth noting that Turkey is not only a member of the NATO alliance but also constitutes the second-largest military in the organization.

War-torn Syria suffocated by unilateral sanctions

The South African writer explained that Syria has suffered immensely under a 12-year war prior to the devastating earthquake. During that war, the US imposed unilateral sanctions against Syria as it supported “various Arab rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar Al-Assad,” as per US claims.

These restrictions have hindered aid to the Syrian people and nation leaving anyone stuck beneath the rubble to face their own fate as the Syrian search and rescue teams undergo major setbacks at all levels.

The newspaper also highlighted that the White Helmets, which are “Western-funded fighters to topple the Syrian government,” are also directly “supported by the US army on the ground.” 

This group has become “fully in charge” of the situation in regions where they operate as those are “parts of Syria where the government has long lost control.”

On that note, it is worth reminding, as did IOL, that approximately “1000 US soldiers continue to operate in Kurdish-controlled areas in the country’s oil-rich northeast.” US soldiers are operating on “Syria’s southern border area” as they cooperate with “Arab rebel factions that they sponsor.”

Read more: WHO chief to Al Mayadeen from Aleppo: Situation is tragic

Chinese concern

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning called on the US to lift its sanctions on Syria and “unlock the doors for humanitarian aid,” reported IOL.

Mao noted that “the devastating earthquakes – on top of years of war and turmoil – have left Syria in a terrible humanitarian crisis,” and emphasized that “the frequent [US] military strikes and harsh economic sanctions have caused huge civilian casualties and taken away the means to the subsistence of the Syrians.”

Furthermore, Mao attacked Washington for stealing Syria’s oil “at a staggering rate.” The spokesperson said, “As we speak, the US troops continue to occupy Syria’s principal oil-producing regions. They have plundered more than 80% of Syria’s oil production and smuggled and burned Syria’s grain stock,” adding, “All this has made Syria’s humanitarian crisis even worse.”

Read more: US should lift sanctions on Syria for disaster rescue: CGTN poll

Global concern 

El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria, characterized the current situation in Syria as “a crisis on top of a crisis.”

According to the article, Benlamlih’s statement during a press conference on Wednesday in which he stated, “We just hope that the political considerations will get out of the way and let us do our job,” is a veiled appeal to the US.

Alongside Benlamlih, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) President Khaled Hboubati said, “The evacuation process and rescue operations are restricted due to obstacles resulting from the severe sanctions. We have shortages in heavy machines and equipment needed to lift the rubble.”

The true face of America exposed

According to the IOL piece, the tragedy in Syria has revealed the US’ “cantankerous foreign policy” and exposed its “much-flaunted” humanitarianism “as a fallacy.”

The South African writer put forward a couple of questions in his quest to prove his abovementioned claims: “Is Washington truly oblivious to the human tragedy that is currently unfolding in Syria where innocent men, women, and children need to be rescued under thousands of collapsed buildings? Where is Washington’s heart, if they have any?”

Makoe also called on the international community to “blatantly disregard America’s unilateral sanctions in Syria and rush to the aid of fellow human beings,” adding, “After all, the US sanctions are not even the UN sanctions against Syria.”

The writer argued that the “US and the EU are a major threat to world peace” and explained that their “‘rules-based world order’ is a ploy to undermine the UN and the majority of its member-states.” On this note, Makoe warned that “if not careful, the UN would be moribund.”

With regard to the Syrian crisis and the US unilateral sanctions on the country, the IOL writer said, “The failure to allow a free and safe passage for international aid organisations to do their work of saving lives in Syria would be an indictment on all the UN-affiliated countries that are looking the other way as the US blatantly abuses its power.”

Syria refers to US temporary sanctions waiver as ‘misleading’

Due to the current logistical difficulties following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria and following an international outcry, the US has decided to issue a six-month sanctions exemption on Syria for all disaster relief-related transactions, but Syria has dismissed the US sanctions waiver as “misleading”.

“The misleading decision taken by the US administration to temporarily ease some of the cruel and unilateral sanctions on the Syrian nation is out of sham and hypocrisy and is no different from previous gestures meant to convey an erroneous humanitarian impression. While the sanctions waiver is proclaimed to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, the realities on the ground prove the opposite,” the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Friday.

It added, “US coercive measures and policies have deprived Syrians of their natural wealth, which is being plundered, and have created obstacles for state institutions to improve living standards, implement development projects and achieve targeted goals, and provide basic services.”

Minimal Western aid to Syria, despite temporary lift of sanctions

Despite the US Treasury announcing the temporary lifting of some Syria-related sanctions, no Western country other than Italy has provided Damascus with aid following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country and Turkey.

Although some Western countries pledged support for Syria, realities on the ground prove the opposite, as only militant-controlled areas have received Western aid so far.

Al Mayadeen correspondent reported that the first plane coming from Italy, loaded with aid to Syria from a Tunisian businessman, arrived at Beirut Airport in the Lebanese capital, with another expected to land later, as per Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport in the Lebanese caretaker government, Ali Hamieh, who said earlier in a statement to Al Mayadeen that two Italian aid planes will land at Beirut airport today and then head to Syria.

The head of the medical delegation coming from Italy, Tammam Yousef, said, “These planes are a message of solidarity from the Italian people to the Syrian people.”

According to Yousef, the planes are loaded with four ambulances, as well as clothes and medical materials, adding that there is a third plane that will take off in the coming days from Italy, carrying additional aid to the Syrian people.

The abstention of the West comes despite Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, stressing the need to avoid “politicization” of aid to earthquake victims in Syria and urging Washington and Brussels to ensure there were “no impediments”.

Pedersen told reporters in Geneva that aid is needed to get to Syrian state-controlled areas, as well as those controlled by militants.

“Certain” sanctions on Syria must be lifted in order for the international community to deliver essential goods to address peoples’ urgent needs in the aftermath of Monday’s earthquake, underlined Corinne Fleischer, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Read more: Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll to top 50,000, UN warns

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Syria Earthquake: US & EU Refuse to Help Syrians


President Assad Exclusively Tells Al-Manar Reporter: I Promise Syrians to Exert Non-stop Efforts to Alleviate Quake Sufferings (Video)

February 10, 2023

Mohammad Salami

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Mrs. Asma al-Assad inspected conditions of people affected by earthquake in Aleppo province and ongoing rescue operations in several areas.

During his visit, President Assad exclusively responded to Al-Manar reporter Ali Shoeib’s questions, stressing that he would exert all the possible efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the Syrians.

Two devastating earthquakes hit on Monday Turkey and Syria, leaving around 22,000 people dead as well as nearly 80,000 others wounded and flattening a huge number of buildings.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Assad Visits Quake-hit Aleppo, Promises Nonstop Efforts to Ease People’s Suffering

By Staff, Agencies

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Aleppo to observe relief and rescue operations following a devastating earthquake that has killed nearly 3,400 people in the war-torn country.

The Syrian Presidency on Friday shared images of Assad and his wife visiting people who were injured in the devastating earthquake.

Assad Visits Quake-hit Aleppo, Promises Nonstop Efforts to Ease People’s Suffering
Assad Visits Quake-hit Aleppo, Promises Nonstop Efforts to Ease People’s Suffering

The Syrian president also visited a site where rescue teams are working to remove rubble, rescue possible survivors and remove the bodies of victims, in al-Mashareqa neighborhood of the city of Aleppo.

During his visit, Assad promised the Syrian people that he will be working uninterruptedly to ease their suffering.

Assad Visits Quake-hit Aleppo, Promises Nonstop Efforts to Ease People’s Suffering

A day earlier, Assad expressed his appreciation of help from world countries to the Syrian nation and government, stressing, however, that many countries are “under pressure from the United States” not to help the Arab country.

Assad made the remarks in a meeting with a Lebanese delegation headed by caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib who traveled to the country to follow up on the latest status of the deadly earthquake in Syria.

The disastrous earthquake hit Turkey and neighboring Syria in the wee hours of Monday. The 7.8-magnitude temblor has so far killed close to 20,000 people in total in the two countries.

As rescue efforts continue in Syria following massive earthquakes there, calls are growing for the US and its allies to remove their sanctions, which are said to be hampering international aid efforts in the country.

Syria has been in the throes of foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.

The US government has over the past years imposed sweeping economic sanctions against Syria amid the Arab nation’s uphill battle for reconstruction and recovery.

The controversial Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed into law by former President Donald Trump, targeted individuals and businesses anywhere in the world that participated either directly or indirectly in Syria’s economy.

The restrictive measures have blocked imports of essential goods, affecting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, heating, gas, and electricity.

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From President al-Assad’s statement to the media at one of the sites for removing rubble and recovering the injured in the city of Aleppo

الموت «وراءهم وراءهم»: للفلسطينيين من كلّ فاجعة نصيب

 الخميس 9 شباط 2023

يوسف فارس

وُثّقت حتى اللحظة وفاة 29 لاجئاً فلسطينياً في سوريا وتركيا (أ ف ب)

لم تَمنح سنوات الغربة الطويلة، الشاب عبد الكريم أبو جلهوم، سوى طقس جديد من طقوس الموت. ابن مخيم جباليا للاجئين شمال غزة، كان قد هاجر من القطاع قبل اثني عشر عاماً، ثمّ التحقت به عائلته قبل خمس سنوات من اليوم، إلى أن أُعلن عن وفاته وزوجته وأبنائهما الأربعة إثر الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضرب مدينة أنطاكيا، حيث كان يقيم. «كان يعمل نجاراً، يقضي أكثر من 10 ساعات في العمل يومياً، بالكاد يستطيع أن يؤمّن لقمة عيشه»، تقول والدته في حديثها إلى «الأخبار»، مضيفةً: «هاجَر من غزة بحثاً عن ظروف معيشية أفضل، لكن قدرَنا أن نلاحق الموت (….) راح أبناؤه براء ومحمد وكنزي ونورة، ما ترك حدا من ريحته». في مخيّم جباليا، تجمّع الآلاف لتقديم واجب العزاء لعائلة الفقيد أبو جلهوم، وعائلة زوجته فاطمة أبو سلطان. ثمّة ما يصنع تفاضلاً حتى في الموت. على الأقلّ، هنا للضحايا مَن يبكيهم.

في مخيّمات اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في سوريا: حندرات والنيرب في حلب، والرمل في اللاذقية، يبدو الحال أكثر كآبة. ما يزيد على 40 ضحية استطاع الأهالي بجهودٍ فردية انتشالهم من تحت الأنقاض، فيما «يخفي الركام مصائر آخرين»، وفق ما يقول اللاجئ محمد سلمان، الذي يسكن «النيرب»، مضيفاً في حديثه إلى «الأخبار»: «عشرات المباني تهدّمت في كلّ المخيمات، الأهالي يبحثون عن الضحايا بأياديهم، من دون أيّ معدّات، لم تصل حتى اللحظة أيّ طواقم إنقاذ ولا مساعدات للمخيم».
ويتابع: «الأهالي يخافون العودة إلى البيوت، حتى التي لم تتضرّر منها، تحسّباً لهزّات أرضية جديدة، و لا تتوفّر خيام تقي الناس من البرد والصقيع».

من جهته، يفيد الزميل الصحافي حسام زيدان، في حديثه إلى «الأخبار»، بأن مخيم الرمل الجنوبي انهارت فيه ثلاثة مباني كاملة على السكّان، اثنان منها مكوَّنان من خمس طبقات، وآخر على الشاطئ، مضيفاً إن «الأضرار كانت في مخيّم النيرب أقلّ وطأة، حيث انهارت بعض الجدران في المنازل، وتسبّبت بوفاة طفلَين يبلغان من العمر 11 عاماً، وجرْح ثالث ما زالت حالته حرجة، فيما أعلنت القيادة المجتمعية في المخيم أن الحياة عادت إلى طبيعتها، وأن الأهالي رجعوا إلى منازلهم». ويشير إلى أن «النقطة المضيئة هي حالة التكاتف الاجتماعي الكبير الذي شاهدناه في المخيمات، حيث وصلت طواقم الإسعاف التابعة للهلال الأحمر الفلسطيني من حمص ودمشق إلى مخيم الرمل الجنوبي، وساهمت كتفاً إلى كتف مع الهلال الأحمر السوري في إسعاف الضحايا وإنقاذهم». كما يشير إلى أن فريق الإنقاذ الجزائري الذي وصل إلى سوريا، والمكوَّن من 125 شخصاً، أصرّ على زيارة المخيّمات الفلسطينية وتقديم خدماته هناك.

أوضاع اللاجئين في مخيّمات الشمال السوري مأسوية وكارثية

ويبيّن فايز أبو عيد، وهو مسؤول الإعلام في مجموعة «العمل لأجل فلسطينيّي سوريا»، بدوره، أن «طواقم المجموعة وثّقت حتى اللحظة وفاة 29 لاجئاً فلسطينياً – سورياً في سوريا وتركيا»، قائلاً في حديثه إلى «الأخبار»: «حتى اللحظة، الأرقام متضاربة، لكن ما وثّقناه بالاسم والمنطقة يفيد بـ 29 ضحية، من بينهم 20 في الشمال السوري، و6 أشخاص من مخيم الرمل في اللاذقية، وواحد من مخيم العائدين في حمص، وطفلتان في مخيم النيرب». ويَلفت أبو عيد إلى أن «أوضاع اللاجئين في مخيّمات الشمال السوري مأسوية وكارثية، هناك مصاعب كبيرة تُواجه فرق الإنقاذ بسبب الدمار الكبير وقلّة الإمكانات المتوافرة، في حين لم تكن الجهود المبذولة لإغاثة المدنيين كافية نتيجة هول المصاب (…) جرى توفير بعض الخيام، لكنّ العيش في داخلها وسط هذه الأجواء العاصفة والباردة من دون وسائل التدفئة، صعب للغاية».
وكان سفير دولة فلسطين في دمشق، سمير الرفاعي، قد أعلن عن آخر إحصائية للضحايا الفلسطينيين في المخيّمات السورية، قائلاً إن أعدادهم ارتفعت في مخيمات الرمل والنيرب وحندرات، وفي بلدة جبلة، إلى 48، فيما تتواصل أعمال البحث عن أحياء تحت الأنقاض. أمّا السفير الفلسطيني في تركيا، فائد مصطفى، فأفاد عن توثيق وفاة 20 فلسطينياً حتى اللحظة.

من ملف : سوريا… جريمة ما بعد الكارثة

فيديوات ذات صلة

مقالات ذات صلة

How are sanctions, blockade affecting humanitarian effort in Syria?

7 Feb 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Sara Salloum 

With thousands dead and thousands of others injured in Syria due to the earthquake, numerous international cargo companies refuse to land in Syria out of fear of US and EU sanctions.

How are sanctions, blockade affecting humanitarian effort in Syria?

A massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 Richter ripped through Syria on early Monday, leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, with the latest tallies showing that more than 1,602 people have been killed in the catastrophe-stricken country, with thousands more injured. 

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the United Nations and competent UN organizations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), among many other humanitarian organizations to provide help for the country in the face of the devastating disaster Syria has been hit with.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad held a meeting with UN representatives and various NGOs in a bid to explain the impact of the unilateral sanctions that are drastically affecting the situation in the country and the humanitarian response to it.

Local sources told Al Mayadeen that numerous international shipping firms have refused to land in Syria out of fear of US and EU sanctions after several countries have asked Syrian airline companies to transport tonnes of aid aboard their civilian airliners, which are not properly equipped for transporting such large amounts of aid.

“The unjust sanctions on Syria directly contributed to an increase in the number of victims as a result of the earthquake because of the inability to secure modern machinery and equipment used in such instances,” the head of the fire department in Latakia, Lieutenant Colonel Mohannad Jaafar, told Al Mayadeen.

“We have fulfilled our duty as per the capabilities available to us. Our entire regiment, with all its firemen, is on high alert. Rescue operations are still ongoing, but we are sadly taking more time because we do not have the proper equipment or a sufficient number of vehicles. Were we to have had these capabilities, we would have been able to save more lives,” Lt. Col. Jaafar added.

Social media users have been sharing a screenshot from live flight trackers showing how Turkey’s airspace is full of air traffic while neighboring Syria to the south does not have any air traffic whatsoever, signaling how the whole world was quick to send aid to Turkey in stark contrast with the situation in Syria.

Some sources have revealed that so far, some 62 aid teams from 50 countries have made it into Turkey while barely any have made it to Syria.

Mohammad, a 40-year-old local from Latakia, told Al Mayadeen how they waited for hours for search and rescue teams to make it to the site. During this time, locals resorted to manually removing any debris they could in a bid to save their families and neighbors.

Mohammad expressed his sadness over the situation in Syria, recalling the vast capabilities that his country had before the war and how it was sending aid and equipment to other disaster-stricken countries around the world when they were hit with such catastrophes, such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Iran.

Aleppo has been classified as the most damaged, with more than 46 homes destroyed thus far. The Aleppo municipality said they were facing extreme difficulty when it came to providing proper equipment and manpower due to the amount of damage dealt to the governorate.

“The fierce military battles that took place in Aleppo have directly contributed to the collapse of the buildings after the foundation of these buildings were damaged, and the reconstruction efforts were delayed due to the sanctions on Syria,” the deputy chief of the Aleppo City Council, Ahmed Rahmani, told Al Mayadeen.

Since the early hours of the morning, the Aleppo governorate has called on the people, private sector companies, and contractors, who have vehicles, to support and help remove the rubble, especially in the densely populated neighborhoods. The Engineers Syndicate also called on all of its members to stay in the Syndicate building in order to carry out their national duty and help people in need.

The crisis resulting from the terrorist war on Syria prompted civilians to seek refuge in damaged or somewhat destroyed buildings lacking basic infrastructure and services.

The Secretary-General of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Arsoussi, made a distress call to international organizations, saying that “Syria urgently needs assistance from international organizations at home and abroad.”

Arsoussi explained that there was a great shortage of equipment for rescue operations, especially when it comes to removing the rubble, with an alarming shortage of medicines and fuel, both of which are required to operate hospitals.

The Syrian Ministry of Health estimated the losses of the health sector in Syria during the decade-long war on the country to have been billions of Syrian pounds, especially in light of the destruction caused by terrorist groups and foreign mercenaries. 

The years of war on Syria have seen the complete destruction of 38 hospitals at the hands of terrorists, as well as the that of 450 vehicles and the killing of more than 700 Syrian doctors.

The Syrian Trust for Development called on those wishing to participate in the national campaign in support of those affected by the disaster to donate cash directly to the following accounts at Byblos Bank:

– Hama Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888028

– Aleppo Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888007

– Latakia Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888008

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Earthquake in Syria is Devastating Combined with Western Hybrid War



The barbaric Western sanctions combined with heating, fuel, and electricity shortages are causing absolute devastation in Syria’s quake-hit cities.

Syria and Turkey United in Massive 7.8 Earthquake


Steven Sahiounie

At least 780 are dead in Syria, with another 2,300 injured according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) after a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 4:17 am local time today.
Rescue teams look for survivors under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake in the regime-controlled northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 6, 2023. – A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria early on February 6, killing hundreds of people as they slept, levelling buildings and sending tremors that were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus, Egypt and Iraq. (Photo by AFP)

The epicenter was near Gaziantep, Turkey on the Syrian border.  After shocks began almost immediately with a powerful 6.7 quake eleven minutes after the initial 7.8 jolt.

Deaths have been reported in the Syrian regions of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, with Tartus having been impacted by the quake, according to SANA.

An eight-story building collapsed in Syria’s Hama province, SANA reported, citing the Hama Fire Brigade. Multiple buildings were also reported to have collapsed in the port city of Latakia, and the city of Aleppo, SANA said.

The Red Crescent in both Turkey and Syria have both asked people to donate blood after the powerful quake. Churches and Mosques in Syria have opened their doors to the homeless.

In Turkey, at least 1,500 dead, with more than 8,550 injured, according to the Turkish media.  At least 10 provinces across southeastern Turkey have been impacted by the earthquake, with 3,800 buildings collapsed.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said Monday it recorded seven quakes with a magnitude above 5. The strongest aftershock so far was recorded at 1:30 pm Monday and had a magnitude of 7.5.

Strong aftershocks are likely to continue in the hours and even days to come after an earthquake as strong as this one, according to meteorologists.

The Syrian Ministry of Defense in Damascus said in a statement it is “mobilizing all its units, formations and institutions in all governorates to provide immediate aid and urgent assistance to the residents affected by the earthquake, search for people trapped under the rubble, and to treat the injured.”

Shaking from the quake could be felt up to 300 kilometers away (186 miles) from the epicenter.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the border between Turkey and Syria is tied as the strongest the country has experienced in more than 100 years of records, according to the USGS.

An equally powerful 7.8 magnitude quake that hit eastern Turkey in 1939 resulted in more than 30,000 deaths.

Turkey has experienced seven quakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater in the past 25 years, but Monday’s is the most powerful. It is also the strongest quake to hit anywhere in the world since an 8.1 magnitude quake struck a remote region in the southern Atlantic Ocean in 2021.

Karl Lang, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech University’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN, “It’s a seismogenic area. It’s a very large fault zone, but this is a larger earthquake than they’ve experienced any time in recent memory.”

“The magnitude of shaking that is felt on the surface is both a function of the amount of energy released, the size of the earthquake, but also how far that energy is released below the surface. So if it is very close to the surface, if it is a shallow earthquake, then it can be very dangerous,” said Lang.

“What’s really unusual here is that it’s a very large earthquake that is also close to the surface,” Lang said.

Residents in Latakia reported, “It felt like it would never be over.” The quake brought on a three-minute rolling movement in which high towering housing units swayed, causing residents to pour into the streets in their pajamas. The coast of Syria is experiencing a very cold rainstorm which began before the quake and has not let up.

With several inches of snow on the ground in Gaziantep, residents waited outside in the rain for about 30 minutes before he could go back inside to grab coats and boots.


Frank Hoogerbeets, CEO and President at Solar System Geometry Survey, made a prediction of this earthquake in a YouTube video on February 2. After his prediction came true, he wrote: “As I stated earlier, sooner or later this would happen in this region, similar to the years 115 and 526. These earthquakes are always preceded by critical planetary geometry, as we had on 4-5 Feb.”

World leaders forgot the Syrian people

In times of natural disasters, it is to be expected for world leaders to extend condolences and offers of help.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted, “I have been in touch with Turkish officials to relay that we stand ready to provide any & all needed assistance. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye.” What about Syria? The Syrian people are suffering as well, but they don’t get mentioned.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, “We stand with the people of Turkey in this difficult time.” No mention of the Syrians suffering.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “India stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey.” No mention of Syria.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sent his condolences to the people of both Turkey and Syria in a series of tweets. The Syrian people deserve mention.

Countries who have offered help to Syria are: China, Russia, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Iraq, Algeria, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Bahrain.

Idlib and the White Helmets

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said its hospitals in Syria “are overwhelmed with patients filling the hallways.”  This news from CNN would lead you to believe that SAMS has hospitals serving Syrians in need all over.  The fact is, SAMS is strictly serving the medical needs of the approximately three million residents of Idlib province, which is the only area in Syria under the occupation of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the former Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

SAMS’ president Dr. Amjad Rass said the organization has been receiving victims and working to guarantee the wellbeing of more than 1,700 staff in Syria and 90 in Gaziantep, Turkey, according to CNN. The fact is, the 1,700 staff he mentions are in Idlib alone, and the 90 are not in Syria at all, but in Turkey.

SAMS is a medical charity located in the US and was founded during the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its charities during the US-NATO attack on Syria for regime change, which failed.

The “White Helmets” group, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, also said there were dozens of victims and hundreds trapped under the rubble in the Idlib region, according to CNN.  The fact is, the White Helmets are an award-winning video troupe founded by a British former secret agent, and they are not known as the Syria Civil Defense locally, as that unit is the Fire Department in Syria and is found across the country in every city and administered from Damascus, not Hollywood.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist.

Over 2,300 killed as 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits Turkey, Syria

Monday, 06 February 2023 5:04 AM  [ Last Update: Monday, 06 February 2023 1:17 PM ]

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has hit Turkey and Syria, killing over 2,300 people and trapping many others.

The quake struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) and was followed by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock 15 minutes later, according to the US Geological Survey.

Turkey’s AFAD emergencies service center put the first quake’s magnitude at 7.4.

According to the head of Turkey’s disaster and emergencies management agency (AFAD) Yunus Sezer, the country’s death toll following the earthquake has risen to about 1,500 with thousands of buildings destroyed.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the earthquake as the country’s largest disaster since 1939.

People gather as rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in the Syria city of Jandaris, February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The Ankara government has requested international aid amid the widespread devastation caused by the quake.

The president of the Turkish Red Crescent also urged the nation to make blood donations.

Kerem Kinik also said on Twitter the organization sending additional shipment of blood to the affected region.

The country’s vice president Fuat Oktay announced the suspension of schools in the 10 affected cities and provinces.

He also announced that flights to and from the airport in Hatay province have been suspended, while airports in Marash and Antep are also closed to civilian flights.

The quake leveled buildings across major cities in southern Turkey, including Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, and caught most people while they were still asleep.

“I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake’s epicenter, told Reuters. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.”

Rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in militant-held town of Jandaris, Syria, on February 6,2023. (Via Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said it was concerned about areas in Turkey from which there had been no news following the overnight tremor.

“National authorities will be focusing on search and rescue at the moment,” a WHO spokesperson told Reuters in a statement, adding “Then we will expect an increased need for trauma care to treat the injured and to support the entire health system in affected areas.”

In Syria, the country’s official media as well as rescue teams working across the nation put the death toll at over 800.

The official SANA news agency, quoting the country’s health ministry, said the quake had killed at least 461 people and left at least another 1,326 injured, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus.

Rescue teams said over 380 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in northwestern parts of the country, which are held by pro-Turkish militants.

A man carries away an injured child following an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, Syria, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Reports said the Syrian border city of Harem in Idlib province was completely ruined by the quake.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad held an emergency cabinet meeting to review the damage and discuss the necessary measures, according to his office.

Raed Ahmed, who heads Syria’s National Earthquake Center, told Syrian media that this was “historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the center.”

The tremors were also felt in Lebanon and Cyprus.

People in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli ran into the street and took to their cars to get away from their buildings in case they collapsed, Reuters cited witnesses as saying.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed in the worst earthquake to hit the country in decades.

Putin offers condolences, aid to Turkey, Syria after quake

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences and offered Russian aid to Turkey and Syria following the deadly earthquake, the Kremlin said.

“We share the sadness and the pain of those who lost their loved ones and we hope for a speedy recovery for all the injured, and are ready to provide the assistance needed to overcome the impact of this natural disaster,” Putin said in a message to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

In a separate message to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin asked him to “convey words of sincere sympathy and support” to the families of the victims and said Russia was “ready to provide required assistance.”

People gather near a damaged site following an earthquake, in Aleppo, Syria, in this handout released by SANA on February 6, 2023. (via Reuters)

“Bashar al-Assad gratefully accepted this offer, and in the coming hours rescuers of the Russian emergencies ministry will fly to Syria,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“The Turkish president warmly thanked Vladimir Putin for such a prompt and sincere reaction and said that he was giving instructions to the competent authorities of the country to accept the help of Russian rescuers,” it said.

Russia said it had emergency rescue Ilyushin-76 planes on standby to fly to the two countries.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu separately spoke with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar by telephone, offering condolences and support.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shoigu “offered to provide all necessary assistance through the military department to his Turkish colleague in the aftermath of the earthquake, including medical assistance to the victims.”

People search through rubble following the earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

China’s Xi condole with Turkey, Syria over deadly quake

Later on Monday, China’s President Xi Jinping sent his condolences to Turkish and Syrian leaders over the most powerful earthquake to have hit their countries in nearly a century.

Xi told Turkey’s Erdogan and Syria’s Assad in separate messages that he was “shocked” to learn of the disaster.

He also conveyed “deep condolences for the dead and sincere sympathy for their families as well as for the injured.”

“I am shocked to learn of the strong earthquake that took place in your countries, causing heavy casualties and loss of property,” Xi said in his messages, according to CCTV.

China’s official foreign aid agency said it was in communication with Turkish and Syrian authorities and “willing to provide emergency humanitarian aid in accordance with the needs of the affected population.”

People search for survivors under the rubble following the earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

EU mobilizes over 10 search and rescue teams to Turkey

The European Union says more than 10 search and rescue teams from the bloc have been mobilized in the wake of Turkey’s major earthquake.

“Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilized from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Italy, Spain and Slovakia have offered their rescue teams to Turkey as well.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

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A Moscow Meeting Shatters Fantasies of a Syrian ‘Confederation’

January 11 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle
A geopolitical writer and journalist who previously worked at leading Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Malek al-Khoury

Russian-brokered Syrian-Turkish rapprochement will bury prospects of a divided Syria, with the potential for opposition factions to be co-opted into the armed forces.

The newly-initiated Syrian-Turkish rapprochement talks are headed in Damascus’ favor and the “Turkish concessions” derided by opponents are just the start, insiders tell The Cradle.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already abandoned his dream of “praying in the Umayyad Mosque” in Damascus. But sources say this will be swiftly followed by further concessions that will throw a wrench into the ambitions of Syria’s opposition factions.

An undivided Syria

There will be no “federalism” or “confederation” – western codewords for the break up of the Syrian state – at these talks, but rather a “Turkish-Russian” acceptance of Damascus’ conditions.

For starters, Ankara plans to open the strategic M4 highway – which runs parallel to the Turkish border and connects all the vital Syrian cities and regions – as a prelude to opening the legal border crossings between Syria and Turkiye, which will re-establish trade routes between the two countries.

This move, based on an understanding between Damascus and Ankara, will essentially close the door on any opposition fantasies of breaking Syria into statelets, and will undermine the “Kurdish-American divisive ambition.”

It is not for nothing that Washington has sought to thwart communications between Ankara and Damascus. Under the guise of “fighting ISIS,” the US invested heavily in Syrian separatism, replacing the terror group with “Kurdish local forces” and reaped the rewards in barrels of stolen Syrian oil to help mitigate the global energy crisis.

Now Turkiye has closed the door to that ‘federalization’ plan.

A Russian-backed proposal

The Syrian-Turkish talks in Moscow on 28 December focused mainly on opening and establishing the necessary political, security, and diplomatic channels – a process initiated by their respective defense ministers.

While resolving the myriad thorny files between the two states is not as easy as the optimists would like, it is also nowhere as difficult as the fierce opponents of rapprochement try to suggest.

The Moscow discussions centered on mild, incremental solutions proposed by Russia. The Kremlin understands that the minefield between Ankara and Damascus needs to be dismantled with cold minds and hands, but insists that the starting point of talks is based on the political formulas of the Astana peace process that all parties have already accepted.

On the ground, Moscow is busy marketing satisfactory security settlements for all, though those on the battlefield appear to be the least flexible so far. The Russian plan is to “present security formulas to the military,” intended to be later translated into the integration of forces – whether Kurdish fighters or opposition militants – into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

This will be achieved via committees led by both Syrian and Turkish intelligence services, a Russian source involved in coordinating the talks tells The Cradle.

Occupied areas of Syria, in 2023

Co-opting the Kurds

The Russian proposals, according to the source, rely on two past successful models for reconciliation on the battlefield. The first is the “Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood model in northern Aleppo,” an area once controlled by Kurdish forces who began to coordinate with the SAA after the sweeping 2016 military operation that expelled opposition militants from the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

The Russian source says that the “Sheikh Maqsoud” model succeeded because of “security coordination,” revealing that “Syrian state security is deployed at the entrances to the neighborhood with checkpoints that coordinate with the Kurdish forces inside – in every way, big and small.” This security coordination includes “arresting criminally wanted persons, and facilitating administrative and service services” in coordination with Damascus.

The second reconciliation model used by Russian forces in Syria succeeded in bringing together the SAA and Sheikh Maqsoud Kurdish militias in a joint military maneuver conducted near the town of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo last August.

While the Russian source confirms that the experience of “security coordination” between the SAA and the Kurdish forces was “successful,” he cautions that these models need “political arrangements” which can only be achieved by “an agreement in Astana on new provisions to the Syrian constitution, which give Kurds more flexibility in self-governance in their areas.”

Opposition amnesty

A parallel proposal revealed to The Cradle by a Turkish source, approaches ground solutions from a “confederation” angle, anathema to the Syrian authorities. According to him, “Damascus must be convinced of sharing power with the qualified factions of the (Turkish) National Army for that.”

While the Turkish proposal tried to move a step closer to Damascus’ aims, it seems that Russian mediation contributed to producing a new paradigm: This would be based on the tried-and-tested Syrian “military reconciliation” model used for years – namely, that opposition militants hand over their arms, denounce hostility to the state, and are integrated into the SAA.

Turkiye’s abandonment of its “demand to overthrow the regime” applies also to its affiliated military factions inside Syria, as the latter’s goals have dwindled to preserving some areas of influence in the north of the country. This is the current flavor of Turkiye’s reduced “confederation” ambitions: To maintain Turkish-backed factions within “local administrations” in northern areas where Turkiye has influence. This, in return for giving up on Ankara’s political ambition of “regime change” in Damascus and redrawing Syria’s northern map.

The solution here will require amending the Syrian constitution, a process that began several years ago to no avail.

From the Syrian perspective, officials are focused on eliminating all opposing separatist or terrorist elements who do not have the ability to adapt to a “unified” Syrian society.

Therefore, Damascus rejects military reconciliation proposals for any “sectarian” separatist or factional militias. Syrian officials reiterate that “the unity of the lands and the people” is the only gateway to a solution, away from the foreign interests that promote “terrorism or secession” – a reference to the Turkish and American role in Syria’s war.

Reconciliation on Damascus’ terms

There is no “confederation” in the dictionary of the Syrian state, and it is determined to stick hard to the principle of Syrian unity until the end. Damascus is intent on one goal: Reconciliations based on surrendering arms in the countryside of Latakia, Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Hasakah, Qamishli, and al-Tanf, which are the areas that are still outside the control of the state.

According to the Turkish source, Syria refused to discuss anything “outside the framework of reconciliations and handing over weapons and regions,” which he says “makes it difficult for Ankara to undertake its mission,” especially in light of the fact that the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front controls large parts of these target areas.

A Syrian source tells The Cradle that the “Qamishli model” of military reconciliation is the closest one that applies to this case: Wherein “the SAA and national defense forces (the majority of which are pro-Damascus Kurds) coordinate fully.”

He makes clear that Damascus has already provided ample self-governance mechanisms for Kurds in the country’s north:

“The (Kurdish-run) Autonomous Administration in Syria already exists. It deals directly with Syria’s Ministry of Local Administration (in Damascus) and has multiple agencies that work through local representative councils to implement government plans in terms of security, tax collection, and services,” and of course it consists of the people of the region – Kurds.

The recent statement of top Erdogan advisor Yassin Aktay may throw a wrench in those works. His insistence that Turkiye should maintain control over the city of Aleppo – Syria’s second most populous, and its industrial heart – did not come out of nowhere.

Ankara considers that its repatriation of three million Syrian refugees should start from “local administrations run by the (Turkish-backed) Syrian National Army (a rebranded version of the opposition ‘Free Syrian Army),” says the Turkish source.

He is referring to Idlib, Aleppo, and their countrysides, and the areas in which Turkiye launched its “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” military operations. These locales in Syria’s north include the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, including Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab, Afrin, and its environs.

Turkiye may consider gradually handing over these strategic zones to its allied Syrian militias, he says.

“Call it confederation or not, these areas should be controlled by the Syrian National Army factions instead of the Al-Nusra Front – in order to ensure the safe return of the refugees.”

Steady progress

In short, the Russian mediation to bring Damascus and Ankara closer is moving slowly, but according to the Turkish source, “it is closer to reconciliation because the Syrian Ministry of Local Administration is beginning to take charge of regional affairs after holding new local council elections – in compliance with plans forged in the Astana process.”

Regarding Astana, the Turkish source says, “Let the Syrians treat the Kurdish and opposition areas as one, if the Kurds agree to dismantle their factions and join the Syrian army within a certain equation, the opposition factions will also accept.”

Regarding the complicated geopolitics of Syria’s east – currently occupied by US troops and their proxies – a high-ranking Syrian official who recently visited Saudi Arabia and Cairo, proposed “Arab intervention with the Syrian tribes to disengage tribe members in the Al-Tanf region from the US forces.” But according to the official, this would be subject to “the progress of relations between Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo, and possibly even Jordan.”

A few days ago, a video message was sent by Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani, in which he thundered: “Where are the armies of the Muslims?” It is a topical message from Al Qaeda’s Syria boss, who is angling to maintain his sectarian “area of ​​influence” in northwest Syria – strategic Idlib on the Turkish-Syrian border. Julani’s destructive narrative may be the last barrier to break for Damascus, Ankara, and Moscow to strike a deal on the ground.

Following Israel, Turkey Bombs Northern Syria Killing 11 Soldiers


Turkey bombed several sites in northern Syria in the early hours of today, Sunday, November 20, 2022, killing 11 Syrian soldiers and injuring 4 others, local sources confirmed.

The Syrian news agency SANA conveyed a military source statement confirming the Turkish aggression and the killing of Syrian soldiers without specifying the number of martyrs or wounded:

“A number of soldiers were martyred as a result of the Turkish attacks on the Syrian lands in the northern countryside of Aleppo and the countryside of Hasakah at dawn this day.”

A reporter for SANA said that Turkish fighter jets bombed several sites in the southwest of Darbassiya, in the outskirts of Al Malikiyah, and in the village of Tal Harmal to the north of Abu Rasin, all of these sites are in Hasakah countryside.

Other sources added Ain Digna, Meng Airport, Ayn Al Arab, Khafaya Al-Salem silos, Tal Rifat, and Mara’naz to the sites targeted by the Turkish bombing.

Wide destruction of houses and farmlands resulted from Turkish aggression.

The regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan claimed this aggression by NATO’s second-largest army is to avenge the Istanbul ‘terrorist’ attack earlier this month, the attack that most observers and analysts doubted the Turkish official narrative about and alleged it’s more of a false flag similar to the Zelensky’s forces S300 missile that targeted Poland.

NATO-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists also denied their involvement in the Istanbul explosion, they would otherwise celebrate their operations.

NATO and its members, especially Turkey have a long history of false flags in Syria to justify their aggression and the war crimes they commit on daily bases against the Syrian people, the head of the Turkish ‘intelligence’ plotted an attack against Turkish soldiers to justify Turkish army aggression against the Syrian forces a couple of years ago, his conversation was leaked and the plot was exposed, he was rewarded by Erdogan for his services.

The Turkish aggression against the Syrian army posts in Hasaskah comes a day after Israel bombed Syrian army posts killing 4 soldiers and injuring a fifth, the Israeli and Turkish aggressions come after the Syrian army cleared the last stronghold of ISIS in southern Daraa city a day preceding the Israeli aggression.


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Related News

Ukrainian Army War Crimes Include Shelling of Ambulences, Firetrucks, and Rescue Workers in the Donbass Republics—Similar to Israelis and U.S. Backed Terrorists in Syria

October 24, 2022

September 23, 2022, Covert Action Magazine

Eva Bartlett

Local residents describe the perpetrators of these crimes—who have received lavish U.S. funding—as “shameless,” “scumbags” and “terrorists.”

Heroic rescue workers in Donbas should be accorded rights under international law to help people without being targeted

In the more than eight years of bombing the civilians of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Ukraine has committed untold numbers of war crimes. These include bombing residential areas, marketshospitals, schools, parks—including with prohibited heavy weapons and banned cluster munitions—and, since late July, raining banned “Petal” mines down on populated civilian areas, including the very center of Donetsk, including as recently as September 7.

A lesser-known war crime is Ukraine’s routine targeting of ambulances, fire trucks, medics and rescuers, and their headquarters and stations. Many of the times Ukraine bombs such heroic rescuers, it is when they are on the way, or already on site, to help civilians often themselves just bombed by Ukraine.

On August 21, Ukrainian shelling of the DPR’s Gorlovka wounded twelve, including five firefighters.

The day prior, Ukrainian shelling targeted an ambulance station in the LPR’s Lysychansk, wounding several and damaging some of the ambulances.

On June 23, the Kievskiy District of Donetsk came under repeated shelling over the course of the two hours I was visiting the Emergency Services headquarters there. On the grounds, I saw the remnants of a “Hurricane” missile from a previous Ukrainian attack.

The previous day, Ukrainian forces targeted an Emergency Services fire truck on call, leaving the driver hospitalized in critical condition. According to his colleagues, they saw a drone above them just prior to Ukraine’s strike. The targeting was unquestionably deliberate.

On June 18, Ukraine targeted a central Donetsk district after Emergency Services had arrived, killing a firefighter and the driver, and injuring three more rescuers.

In early June, heavy Ukrainian shelling of Kuibyshevsky District, Donetsk, destroyed an ambulance and seriously injured the driver.

Donetsk ambulance destroyed by Ukrainian shelling while out on a call. [Source: Photo courtesy of Eva Bartlett]

Ukraine’s attacks on emergency workers is not new; Ukraine has been doing so for years.

In June 2021, during a humanitarian cease-fire, Ukrainian forces targeted an ambulance which had arrived to evacuate three injured DPR soldiers.

In October 2019, Ukrainian forces fired an anti-tank guided missile at a DPR military ambulance en route to help a child, wounding the driver and a paramedic.

In August 2018, Ukrainian forces fired a missile at a DPR ambulance, killing the driver and two female paramedics.

When I first visited the DPR in September 2019, going to hard-hit areas around Gorlovka, I was told by Zaitsevo administration that ambulances could not reach the villagers.

“The paramedics don’t go farther than this building; it’s too dangerous. If somebody needs medical care near the front lines, someone has to go in their own car and take them to a point where medics can then take them to Gorlovka. The soldiers also help civilians who are injured.”

This is something I was very familiar with in Gaza, occupied Palestine, where Israeli soldiers routinely fire at Palestinian farmers and other laborers on agricultural land, a policy of harassment to drive Palestinians off their land. In most cases, ambulances likewise could not reach the injured due to Israel’s policy of targeting ambulances. Consequently, seriously injured Palestinians bleed to death.

In Zaitsevo, I was told this had happened there, too. “A woman died due to huge blood loss because no one could reach her house to take her away in time. She was injured in the shelling and bled to death.”

Targeting medics and other rescuers ensures those in need of help are deprived of it, and increases the likelihood that people who might have lived instead die of their injuries.

The intentional targeting of ambulances and medics, as well as fire trucks and other emergency services vehicles and workers, is against international law.

Speaking to DPR Rescuers

During my June and August 2022 visits to the DPR, I interviewed a number of Emergency Services workers and medics.

According to Konstantin Zhukov, the Chief Medical Officer of Donetsk Ambulance Services, the ambulance services workers face shelling daily, constantly, and many employees have been wounded while working. One of the ambulance stations was completely destroyed by Ukrainian shelling.

Outside, I spoke with Tatyana Golota, an emergency physician, and Alena Kondrasheva, a paramedic.

Both reiterated that it is normal coming under repeated Ukrainian fire. They spoke of Ukraine shelling after medics and emergency services workers had arrived to help civilians.

They showed me an ambulance completely destroyed by Ukrainian shelling. It was new and had only been operational a few months before being destroyed.

“That day we were at work and heard about the brigade coming under fire. The doctor had gone to help people, and the driver, by chance, walked away to try to get a mobile signal. At that moment, there was a direct hit on the vehicle.”

Also in Donetsk, I spoke with Sergei Neka, Director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

He likewise said rescuers increasingly come under fire when they go out on a call, sometimes making it impossible to reach the people in need.

According to him, from February 24, 2022, to when I spoke with him in August, four people were killed and 40 injured, as well as significant damage to equipment and buildings.

“Our units arrive at the scene of the accident and Ukraine begins to shell it. A lot of equipment has been damaged and destroyed.”

I asked about the impact of the “Petal” mines Ukraine has been dropping on the city, and was told a 21-year-old employee was injured by a PFM-1S mine after a region was cleared, the mine falling from the building and the unsuspecting rescuer stepping on it, losing his foot.

In Makeevka, just east of Donetsk, I went to an orphanage that had been shelled with the mines. Most of the clean-up was completed by the time I arrived on the second day of de-mining, but one remained. I watched a sapper find and detonate it, and although I had previously seen a group of eight mines detonated, creating a massive blast, the force of the single mine was still quite powerful.

According to Dmitry Chamota, Head of Donetsk Emergency Services Deminers, they found 26 PFM-1 mines scattered around the grounds of the orphanage, including on the playground.

In June, I met Andrey Levchenko, Chief of Kievskiy District Emergency Ministry. Over the course of the two hours at his station, Ukraine was intensively shelling the district, leading us to take cover inside the building lest the property be targeted again.

We did venture outside between bouts of shelling, where Levchenko pointed out damage to the buildings and the shell of the Ukrainian-fired Hurricane MLRS which struck the premises.

The building has blown out windows, sandbagged windows to attempt to protect the workers; some days prior, the chief’s office had been damaged by shrapnel from the shelling. Thankfully, he had just stepped out a minute before the blast.

He showed me the fire truck damaged on June 22, pointing out the many shrapnel holes and noting one of the rear tires had been blown out.

Two of the employees who had been out on that call spoke to me about that day, saying that, after Ukrainian shelling of the district, they received a call that people were trapped inside a building with the door blocked after the shelling. A fire was spreading to the second and third floors, and that people were unable to escape. As the rescuers assessed the situation, a shell hit a wall near the truck and wounded the driver.

They said that, prior to the shelling, they saw a drone overhead. This, combined with the facts that they were uniformed and the fire truck was clearly marked and in a civilian area where people were calling for help, makes it credible to believe Ukraine deliberately targeted the rescuers.

Of Ukraine’s heightened shelling over the past many months, Levchenko said it was constant and daily. “Before, if we speak about 2014-2015, twenty minutes, one hour maximum. Now six-seven hours non-stop, every day.”

He said that the Ukrainian forces shell, wait until rescuers arrive and then shell again. “They wait for 30 minutes for us to arrive. We arrive there, start assisting people, and the shelling resumes.”

This is something I witnessed for myself when, on August 4, Ukraine bombed the hotel in which I was staying, the fourth and fifth shells landing 50 meters away and then directly beside the hotel, respectively. When the fifth struck, shattering inwards the lobby glass doors, I had fortunately just stepped out of the lobby where 30 seconds earlier I had been speaking to journalists who had run in from the street.

When it seemed the shelling had stopped, journalists went outside to document the damage. Sadly, a young woman outside the hotel had been killed by the shelling. Five others just two streets away were also torn apart by the bombs, including a promising 12-year-old ballerina, her grandmother, and her world famous former ballerina ballet teacher.

Emergency Services arrived and, not long after, Ukraine resumed its shelling. Fortunately, they were able to get inside, but this is just one example of Ukraine’s double strikes.

According to Levchenko, Ukraine does not only shell two times, but that they sometimes shell three times: “They wait again, our guys hide in the shelters, as soon as we go out, put out the fire, help people, there could be people under the debris, doors stuck, people can’t get out and get to the basement…then shelling resumes.”

He described the people engaging in this sort of warfare against civilians and rescuers as “Shameless. Scumbags. Terrorists.”

He is not wrong.

Targeting Rescuers: A Terrorist Tactic Adopted by U.S. Allies in Ukraine, Israel and Syria

As the DPR Emergency Services chief pointed out damage to the fire truck, I was reminded of Israel’s attacks on Palestinian medics and fire brigades in Gaza, including during the December 27, 2008-January 18, 2009, Israeli war on Gaza, where I was living at the time.

During those three weeks, I rode in the medics’ ambulances, documenting the destruction and the victims of Israel’s war crimes, but also in a sense as a human shield, in the hope that Israel would not strike ambulances in which a handful of internationals and I were riding.

As it turned out, by the end of the Israeli massacre of Gaza, Israeli forces killed 16 medical rescuers, four in one day alone. Another 57 were injured. At least 16 ambulances were damaged, with at least nine completely destroyed.

One of the murdered was a 35-year-old paramedic, Arafa Abd al-Dayem, who I had accompanied the night prior to his murder. As I wrote of that evening“The dead, a 24-year-old night watchman, had no warning of the at least 2 missiles which leveled the school and tore him apart. The medics work to load the corpse, first having to replace the flat tire. Working frantically, still fearful of potential strikes, they crowd the ambulance, hoist the van, replace the flat. A missile hits 50 meters away. Surely, undoubtedly, those warplanes above us know—from the markings of the ambulance, the clothes of the medics, the crystal clear photos their drones can take—that we are civilians and medics below. Yet they fire.”

Arafa was killed later that day, when Israeli forces fired a flechette shell directly at his ambulance, shredding him with the dart-like flechettes, causing massive internal bleeding in his abdomen, blood in his lung, shock, and death.

A surgeon I interviewed later when writing about Israel’s widespread use of flechettes in Gaza told me that flechettes cause more injuries than other small munitions precisely because they spread in a larger area. And while the darts appear innocuously small, their velocity and design enable them to bore through cement and bones and “cut everything internal.” Accordingly, the prime cause of death is severe internal bleeding from slashed organs, particularly the heart, liver and brain.

One of the injured, Hassan al-Attal, 35, was a medic whose ambulance I was in when he and another medic came under Israeli sniper fire while attempting to retrieve a corpse from the street just beyond the ambulance. The sniper fire reached the ambulance itself. Hassan was wounded in the leg. This was during a few hours of supposed cease-fire. But in any case, the medics never should have been targeted.

As I wrote“Although the Geneva Conventions explicitly state that ‘medical personnel searching, collecting, transporting or treating the wounded should be protected and respected in all circumstances,’ throughout Israel’s invasion this was not the case. Indeed, as the injured and emergency workers testify, Israeli forces targeted and prevented medical workers from reaching the wounded.

Without coordination, many ambulances did not dare risk Israeli gunfire and shelling, meaning hundreds of calls went unanswered, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Denied medical care, many victims succumbed to their wounds.”

Israeli forces killed 13 Civil Defense workers and injured 31, also destroyed six civil defense stations and damaging four.

From that same article“Civil Defense workers, like medics, are protected under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention states not only that emergency workers must be respected and allowed to do their work, but that their buildings, equipment and vehicles must not be targeted.

Yousef al-Zahar, director-general of Civil Defense in Gaza, told me at the time, ‘Targeting the Civil Defense centers and teams is an obvious indicator that the Israeli forces intended to paralyze Civil Defense activities in the Gaza Strip to raise civilian victims’ numbers in the casualties.’”

According to statistics from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health and the PRCS, from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 to when I wrote the 2010 article, Israeli Forces have killed at least 56 medical rescuers, including paramedics, drivers, doctors and volunteers—an average of one rescuer every two months—and have injured at least another 500 medical rescuers.

Likewise, British journalist Vanessa Beeley has written at length about Syrian rescuers targeted by terrorist factions in Syria, their equipment stolen. In one of her articles, she cited a Commanding Officer of the Real Syria Civil Defense in an Aleppo district describing a scenario which Donbas and Palestinian rescuers would recognize:

“They (terrorists) targeted us deliberately in order to destroy our equipment & structures. They wanted to prevent us being able to work for our people. They would target our crew with sniper fire and explosive bullets. Their main mission was to kill the crew and destroy our base so we couldn’t care for the people of Aleppo.”

In that same article, she noted that “terrorist groups systematically carried out double-tap attacks” on the rescuers, just as Israel does to Palestinian rescuers and Ukraine to Donbas rescuers.

Ukraine Continues Killing Donbas Rescuers

On September 1, 13 DPR Emergency workers were killed and 9 injured from Ukrainian shelling. According to a representative of the Emergency Situations, the shelling was intentional.

“The missiles exactly hit residential buildings. The vehicle was outside and it was hit with shrapnel and pieces of the destroyed building. But again, you can see it’s an emergency vehicle—a fire vehicle. This is a war crime.”

The following day, two more Emergency Services workers were killed and two injured by Ukrainian shelling of their fire truck, in Makeevka. They were en route to put out a fire. Images accompanying the news show a mangled bright red fire truck, unmistakably a rescue services vehicle.

When in August I spoke with the Director of the Donetsk Department of Fire and Rescue of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, he told me that, at that time, four Emergency Services workers had been killed and 40 injured by Ukrainian shelling.

With Ukraine’s targeting of Emergency Services in September, the number of rescuers Ukraine has killed is now at least 19, with another 51 injured.

A funeral ceremony of farewell to two dead employees of the 14th fire and rescue unit of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the DPR was held in Makeevka” Photo courtesy DPR Ministry of Emergency Services. [Source:]

I had the chance to speak with the mother of a young firefighter, Pavel (“Pasha”) Legonkiy, killed by Ukrainian shelling on June 18, 2022. He and other Emergency Services personnel had gone to the site of a Ukrainian shelling, in central Donetsk. A Ukrainian double-tap strike killed Pasha and the driver, injuring three others.

Svetlana spoke proudly of her courageous, compassionate son.

“He loved his work very much. He lived for this work. It was his duty to help people. My son dreamed of starting a family, dreamed of having children, dreamed of working! And one shell that you sent here ended his life.”

These men and women know very well the threats they face when going out on a call, but go anyway, to help their citizens under Ukrainian attacks.

The two women I spoke to at Donetsk Ambulance Services replied to my question about whether they considered stopping their work.

“I’m really scared, everyone is scared. But what can we do? How about the patients? They are people like me, they hurt and are even more scared. They are waiting for our help. While you are driving you feel fear, but as soon as you get to the place of the tragedy, the fear goes away and you just start doing your job and forget about this fear.”

The Kievskiy Emergency Ministry Chief, Andrey Levchenko, said of the rescuers, “They are all heroes. If it were possible, I would give a medal to every one of them, to honor their work, to support them. But they don’t do that for the medals, no way. Nobody ever said, ‘we’re not going, we don’t want to,’” he said, referring to when rescuers go out on calls.

He is right. These rescuers are heroes, putting their lives on the line every time they go out to help a person in need, knowing full well Ukraine frequently strikes an area a second and a third time, specifically to target rescuers. While they might not receive or want medals, they should be afforded their right under international law to rescue people without fear of being shelled by Ukraine.



The pretext of “security” along Gaza’s buffer zone

In Just Under Three Weeks, Ukrainian-Fired Prohibited “Petal” Mines Maim At Least 44 Civilians, Kill 2, in Donetsk Region

Ukraine bombed a Donetsk hotel full of journalists – here’s what it felt like to be inside at the time

Ensuring maximum casualties in Gaza

Israeli Sniper Targets Uniformed Medics: what I witnessed in Gaza

Israeli attacks on emergency workers still affecting Gaza’s safety

REAL Syria Civil Defence Describe Terrorist ‘Double Taps’ and Chemical Weapon Attacks in Aleppo

Previous Posts

Israel Bombs Aleppo Airport for the Second time in One Week


Israel (read: the USA, rest of NATO, and the Gulfies) bombed Aleppo International Airport taking the airport out of service for the second time in one week.

A Syrian military source said in a statement conveyed by the Syrian news agency Sana:

“At approximately 8:16 p.m. this evening, the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression with a number of missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport.”

The military sources added that the aggression led to material damage to the airport runway rendering it out of service.

Official and local sources have not reported any casualties from this Israeli war crime at the time of this report.

Reminder: bombing civilian facilities is a war crime defined by all conventions and international treaties, bombing an international airport during its operation is an Israeli level of war crime sanctioned by its sponsors in the so-called collective west and will not go unpunished.

Israel, the US’s advanced criminal tool in the region, is proving to those still hesitant that its very existence is an existential threat to the people of the region, a threat to the world’s peace order, and a threat to humanity as a whole.

Syrian Civil Aviation has suspended all arriving and departing flights to the airport, diverting them to Damascus International Airport as it assesses the damage to the airport’s infrastructure, mainly the runways, rendering it unsafe for commercial flights and the passengers on board such flights.

The Syrian Ministry of Transportation urged all passengers scheduled for departure from the airport to contact their air travel and booking agencies to reschedule their flights.

It took the Syrian civil aviation two days to repair the damages from the previous Israeli bombing of the Aleppo International Airport on the 31st of August, the technicians are still assessing the damages from this aggression at the time of this report.

Israel only exists with the massive funding it receives from US and EU taxpayers, the massive funding from most of the Gulfies, and the ‘ironclad‘ protection it receives from the collective west, their claims that they are protecting its ‘democracy’ is a farce in the face of their own citizens who they suck their blood dry to finance their antichrist project in Israel; if someone thinks otherwise, just watch Biden’s latest Satanic speech again.

Zionism is an anti-Jewish ideology built on the myth of creating a homeland for the Jewish in diaspora in contradiction to the teachings of the Torah that literally prevent the Jews from creating a country of their own as they are, as per their own books, punished by God to be dispersed amongst the nations for the mischief they have collectively committed when the Jews of the Levant had a Jewish state of their own.

Another myth is that the homeland of all the Jews in the diaspora is in Palestine, Judaism is a religion and not a race or ethnicity, Zionism is not a religion, it’s a political movement, and the early Zionists even considered Argentina and Crimea as potential places to build their state before they settled on Palestine with the help of the British. To put it into perspective think of what relates Christians in the Philippines or Africa, or Europe to Palestine. Or what relates a newly converted European Muslim to Mecca in Arabia?

The history of the creation of Israel, the current day state not Israel the nickname of Prophet Jacob son of Isaac son of Ibrahim (Abram), and all the massacres, crimes against humanity, and war crimes it committed and is committing against the real Semite people of the Levant is evidence that this Zionist movement is an antichrist movement sponsored by very influential western bankers and mega-churches like the Evangelical Church in the USA, in order to ‘unleash the beast’, the signs are all on the walls and only fools will not see them, the same fools who will worship the antichrist instead of God.

Syria, the last secular country in the region, is engaged in a war of terror and war of attrition waged against its people by the world’s super-rich and superpower countries for the past 11.5 years, this came after decades of isolation and sanctions imposed on the country not to force export western ‘values’ to its conservative people, it’s because of its refusal to recognize the so-called ‘state of Israel’, the Syrians know much better than everybody else that the return of Jesus Christ will be in Damascus, in particular, he will descend from Heavens onto the white eastern minaret of the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus and will lead the believers in the final battle of Armageddon. If you consider all of these biblical details as myths, you better read the Talmud and the Tanakh, the Zionists’ books they wrote to misinterpret the Ten Commandments, and the Torah, the two books that base the constitution of the so-called state of Israel.

Syria might or not respond in kind in a tit for tat for these repeatitive Israeli war crime bombing of Aleppo International Airport, Syria has a priority duty now to enhance its defenses and help the world rid of the kingdom foothold of the antichrist, and it’s advancing rapidly in this process despite the US-sponsored and protected war crimes committed against it and against its people by Israel, ISIS, Al Qaeda variants, and NATO armies, the US army and the Turkish army, and the host of ‘intelligence’ agencies of the west and Gulfies.


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Iran Captures Hardened Terrorist Accused of Criminal Conduct Abroad

August 19, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry said its forces have arrested a notorious terrorist who has committed a litany of terrorist activities in regional countries, including Syria.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the ministry said its forces have captured a hardened and dangerous terrorist who had been involved in terrorist operations in foreign countries.

According to the statement, the arrestee has taken part in terrorist activities in four countries of the region, had joined Takfiri-terrorist groups in Syria at the height of the crisis in the Arab country, and had committed criminal acts in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib.

After the defeat of Takfiri terrorists in Syria, the “member of the ring of cross-border terrorism,” who is also an expert in heavy weapons, shifted his criminal activities to two neighbors of Iran and joined another terrorist group with criminal records against the unity of the Islamic community to continue with acts of sabotage against the Iranian nation and its territorial integrity, the statement added.

Earlier this month, the Intelligence Ministry arrested ten members of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIL’/’ISIS’ group] who had plans to carry out acts of terrorism targeting mourning ceremonies marking the martyrdom anniversary of third Shia Imam Hussein [AS].

أنقرة تُغضب جماعاتها: خطوة أولى نحو دمشق

السبت 13 آب 2022

خرجت الإضرابات في بعض مناطق الشمال السوري عن السيطرة بعد إحراق العلم التركي (أ ف ب)

 علاء حلبي 

لم يخرج مولود جاويش أوغلو، في تصريحاته الأخيرة حول محادثاته مع فيصل المقداد، عن المؤشّرات التي ما فتئت أنقرة تبعث بها في الآونة الأخيرة، حول رغبتها في الانفتاح التدريجي على دمشق، بهدف إيجاد حلول لأزمة اللاجئين وتحقيق مكاسب ميدانية، يمكن رجب طيب إردوغان تجييرُها لمصلحته في الانتخابات الرئاسية. وعلى رغم أن تلك التصريحات أثارت موجة غضب ورفض في الشمال السوري، قادتها أطراف عدّة تجمع في ما بينها المصلحة في بقاء الوضع القائم، إلّا أن تركيا بدت راغبة في ضبط الشارع بما يتوافق مع تكتيكاتها السياسية، وفي الوقت نفسه استثماره في الضغط على شريكَي «أستانا»، موسكو وطهران، ومِن خَلفهما دمشق

خلال مؤتمر صحافي لوزير الخارجية التركي، مولود جاويش أوغلو، وفي ردّه على سؤال يتعلّق بالأوضاع في سوريا، أجاب رأس هرم الدبلوماسية التركية باستفاضة، شارحاً موقف بلاده من الانفتاح على دمشق، والذي وضع له شروطاً متّصلة بـ«الحرب على الإرهاب»، في إشارة إلى «قسد» التي تَراها أنقرة امتداداً لحزب «العمال الكردستاني»، مشيراً في الوقت ذاته إلى الاقتناع الذي بات مترسّخاً لدى تركيا بضرورة إجراء ما سمّاه «مصالحة» بين الحكومة والمعارضة لضمان وحدة الأراضي السورية. أوغلو أشار أيضاً، في سياق حديثه، إلى «لقاء عابر على الواقف» أجراه مع وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، على هامش اجتماع مجموعة دول «حركة عدم الانحياز» في بلغراد، في تشرين الأول من العام الماضي، نافياً وجود أيّ تواصل مباشر بين الرئيسَين التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، والسوري بشار الأسد، مفنّداً بذلك شائعات أطلقتها وسائل إعلام مرتبطة بحزب «العدالة والتنمية» الحاكم في تركيا بهذا الخصوص، كانت قد نفتها دمشق أيضاً. غير أنه عاد وأكد أن موسكو تدفع في الاتّجاه المذكور، والذي تريد تركيا، في المقابل، أن يبدأ بلقاءات أمنية في الوقت الحالي، تتركّز، بحسب ما يُفهَم من كلامه، على «اتفاقية أضنة» المُوقَّعة عام 1998 بين سوريا وتركيا.
ولم يكد الوزير التركي ينتهي من تصريحاته، حتى بدأت تَظهر دعوات في الشمال السوري إلى الخروج في تظاهرات رافضة لها، تحت عناوين عديدة؛ أبرزها «لا للصلح». على إثر ذلك، شهدت مناطق عدّة تسيطر عليها فصائل تابعة لأنقرة، وأخرى في إدلب التي تَحكمها «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تظاهرات تخلّلتها – في ريف حلب الشمالي – عمليات إحراق للعلم التركي، وهتافات مناوئة لأنقرة. وأفادت مصادر ميدانية، «الأخبار»، بأن هذه التظاهرات خرجت لدوافع عديدة، بعضها شخصي يتعلّق بوجود تيّارات رافضة لأيّ انفتاح على دمشق، وبعضها الآخر مرتبط بجهات بعينها لا ترغب في تغيير الوضع القائم، من بينها صناعيون وتجّار يملكون استثمارات عديدة ويستفيدون من ارتباط مناطقهم بالاقتصاد التركي، وبعضها الثالث تقف وراءه تيّارات تابعة لـ«الإخوان المسلمين»، الذين بدأ نشاطهم يطفو على السطح في أعقاب عمليات إعادة هيكلة قامت بها تركيا لـ«الائتلاف» المعارض، قلّصت بموجبها حضورهم داخله.

تزامنت حركة الإضرابات في الشمال السوري مع ظهور موجة رفض للسلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا

وجاءت موجة الاحتجاج الجديدة تلك، بالتزامن مع ظهور بوادر تمرّد على السلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا في الشمال، تجلّت في عمليات شطب لعبارات مؤيّدة لأنقرة، واستبدال أخرى بها ترَفض هذه التبعية، وهو ما أعقبته حملة أمنية ألقت خلالها الفصائل القبض على عدد من الأشخاص، وعمّمت أسماء آخرين، بتهمة «الإساءة لتركيا». ويبدو أن حركة الإضرابات هذه خرجت عن السيطرة في بعض المواقع، وخصوصاً بعد إحراق العلم التركي، والذي استنفرت أنقرة على إثره قادة الفصائل وبعض المؤثّرين في الشارع من أجل استنكار الواقعة بوصْف المحروق «راية مقدسة»، والدعوة إلى احترام «التضحيات التركية والعلاقة المتينة مع أنقرة». كما أصدر «المجلس الإسلامي»، الذراع الدينية لأنقرة في الشمال، بياناً اتّهم فيه «مندسّين» بالوقوف وراء ما سمّاه «حرْف الأمر عن مساره وتهديد مصالح الثورة». وفي السياق نفسه، كشفت المصادر الميدانية أن اجتماعاً عقده مسؤولون أمنيون وعسكريون أتراك، مع قادة بعض الفصائل في ريف حلب الشمالي، أبلغوا فيه الأخيرين ضرورة منع انزلاق الشارع إلى معاداة تركيا، بشتّى السبل، ومن بينها اعتقال الأشخاص «المسيئين»، مُتوقّعة اعتقال مَن أحرقوا العلم وردّدوا شعارات مناوئة لأنقرة بتهم عدّة؛ من بينها «الإساءة لتركيا»، و«إلحاق الضرر بالمال العام»، ولا سيما مع انتشار فيديو الإحراق في وسائل الإعلام التركية، وإثارته مخاوف من موجات عنف جديدة ضدّ اللاجئين السوريين في تركيا. وعلى عكْس حالة الانفلات التي ظهرت في مناطق سيطرة الفصائل، لم تشهد إدلب، التي يُحكِم أبو محمد الجولاني سيطرته عليها، أيّ حوادث تُذكر، في ما من شأنه أن يضيف نقطة إضافية إلى رصيد الجولاني الذي ترغب أنقرة في توحيد مناطق نفوذها تحت سيطرته.
بالتوازي مع ذلك، وفي محاولة لتخفيف حدّة الاحتقان، وفي الوقت نفسه استثمار حركة الشارع في الضغط على دمشق، خرج المتحدّث باسم الخارجية التركية، تانجو بيلجيتش، ببيان لتفسير تصريحات أوغلو، ذكر فيه أن تركيا أدت دوراً رائداً في الحفاظ على وقف إطلاق النار، وإنشاء «اللجنة الدستورية» من خلال عمليّتَي أستانا وجنيف، وقدّمت الدعم الكامل للمعارضة ولجنة التفاوض في العملية السياسية، مُحمِّلاً دمشق مسؤولية عرقلة الحلّ السياسي. وختم بيانه بالتأكيد أن تركيا «ستواصل مساهمتها النشطة في الجهود المبذولة لتهيئة الظروف المناسبة للعودة الطوعية والآمنة للاجئين، وإيجاد حلّ للنزاع وفقاً لخريطة الطريق المنصوص عليها في قرار مجلس الأمن الدولي الرقم 2254، بالتعاون مع جميع أصحاب المصلحة في المجتمع الدولي. وبينما اشتعلت مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي بمواقف رافضة لأيّ انفتاح تركي على دمشق أطلقها قياديون في الفصائل، لم تَخرج عن «الائتلاف» أيّ تصريحات في هذا السياق، في استمرار لسياسة الصمت التي اتّبعها طوال الشهر الماضي، بعد توالي التصريحات التركية حول الرغبة في التعاون مع الحكومة السورية. وتفسّر المصادر نفسها التي تحدّثت إليها «الأخبار»، ذلك، بأنه رغبة من أنقرة في فصْل ما يجري في الشارع عن المسار السياسي، لاستثمارهما معاً في الضغط على دمشق وموسكو وطهران، ما يعني في المحصّلة ربْط أيّ خطوة نحو دمشق باستمرار المصالح التركية، وما ينجم عنها من مكاسب.

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Supporters of armed groups attack Turkish checkpoints in Idlib, Aleppo

12 Aug, 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Following Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s proposal to reconcile between the Syrian government and the opposition factions, supporters of armed groups staged massive protests in the countryside of Idlib and Aleppo.

Thousands of supporters of armed groups took to the streets on Friday to protest against Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for proposing reconciliation between the Syrian government and the opposition factions.

Turkey’s top diplomat revealed on Thursday that he had a brief meeting with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in October in Belgrade and that communication between the two countries intelligence agencies had resumed.

Cavusoglu added, “We have to somehow get the opposition and the regime to reconcile in Syria. Otherwise, there will be no lasting peace, we always say this.”

Cavusoglu also stated that there must be strong administration in Syria to prevent any division of the country, adding that “the will that can dominate every corner of its lands can only be achieved through unity and solidarity.”

Supporters of the so-called Turkish-backed National Army took to the streets in major northern cities including Azaz, Al-Bab and Afrin to protest Cavusoglu’s comments.

Some protesters burned a Turkish flag, while others removed Turkish flags displayed throughout major northern cities.

Meanwhile, armed groups summoned supporters to protest in major northern cities, which are under the control of Turkish forces, under the slogan: “No reconciliation”.

Activists confirmed that dozens of demonstrations took place in several areas of Idlib and Aleppo’s countryside, emphasizing their rejection of Cavusoglu’s proposal, which contradicts the Tukey’s claims that the Syrian state is obstructing the country’s political process. 

These protests demonstrate that armed groups are the impediment to any political process that leads to stability in the country and a resolution to the 11-year-long crisis.

انطلاق المقاومة ضد الاحتلال الأميركيّ في سورية

 الخميس 28 تموز 2022

ناصر قنديل

-عام 2014 كان مفصلياً في حياة سورية عندما ظهر الطريق المسدود أمام مشروع إسقاط الدولة ورئيسها، وفشل الرهان على عشرات آلاف الإرهابيين الذين تم جلبهم من كل أنحاء الدنيا، وتكفل بهم الجيش السوري بدعم قوى المقاومة بإلحاق الهزيمة بهم، فجاء الجواب مركباً، تم تصنيع تنظيم داعش بقرار أميركي كشفه الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب مشيراً بإصبع الاتهام إلى هيلاري كلينتون، ثم تمّ اتخاذ ظهور داعش وتمدده ذريعة للتمركز الأميركي على الأراضي السورية وعودتها الى الأراضي العراقية، وبالتوازي قام الجيش التركي الذي قدّم الملاذ لتكوين داعش وتنظيم صفوفه، كما فعل مع التشكيلات الإرهابية التي سبقته، بالتوغل داخل الأراضي السورية محكماً السيطرة على محافظة إدلب وأجزاء من محافظة حلب، وكما اتخذت أميركا من صنيعتها داعش ذريعة لاحتلال محافظتي الحسكة والرقة، وقامت بتشجيع نشوء كانتون كردي مسلح فيهما، اتخذ الرئيس التركي من ظهور الكانتون التركي ذريعة احتلال قواته للأراضي السورية، وتهديده الدائم بتوسيع عمله العسكري إلى المزيد من الأراضي.

نهاية عام 2015 بدأ التحول المعاكس مع تموضع القوات الروسية في سورية، وتناغم الأداء الروسي السوري الإيراني بمشاركة المقاومة لخوض حرب إنهاء داعش في سورية، بينما كان الحشد الشعبي مع المقاومة و الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية يعيدون تكوين الجيش العراقي بالتوازي مع خوض معركة تحرير العراق، وتحقق ستاتيكو استراتيجي في البلدين، حيث الاحتلال الأميركي والاحتلال التركي يسيطران على الأراضي السورية في عدة محافظات تعادل ثلث مساحة سورية، وبعض الأراضي العراقية، لكن مشروع اسقاط العراق وسورية بات من الماضي، حتى جاءت قمة طهران وفتحت طريق كسر معادلة هذا الستاتيكو، حيث تموضعت روسيا الى جانب ايران وراء الدولة السورية، سواء بقرار رعاية مقاومة سورية وطنية وشعبية بوجه الاحتلال الأميركي، أو بقرار الجيش السوري مواجهة أي عمل عسكري تركي نحو الأراضي السورية، والمعادلة واضحة، إنهاء الاحتلال الأميركي ينهي الكانتون الكردي ويسقط الذريعة التركية، فيفتح الباب لوضع مستقبل الاحتلال التركي على الطاولة، بينما يتولى الحشد الشعبي في العراق تذكير الأتراك بجدية القرار، بحتمية وقف العمليات وانسحاب الاحتلال.

خلال السنوات التي مضت نضج وعي شرائح واسعة من أبناء سورية في مناطق الجزيرة، شرق الفرات حيث الاحتلال الأميركي، لصالح مشروع المقاومة، وبذلت الدولة السورية ومؤسساتها العسكرية والأمنية جهوداً جدية ودؤوبة على تنظيم صفوف قوى المقاومة السورية، وكانت قوى المقاومة في المنطقة المساندة للدولة السورية تنقل خبراتها لهذه المقاومة الصاعدة، وكانت إيران لا تبخل بما ينبغي لتكوين قوة المقاومة الواعدة، وخرجت تظاهرات عديدة بوجه الاحتلال الأميركي، ووقعت مصادمات شعبية مع وحدات الاحتلال، ونفذت عمليات محدودة متباعدة ضد مواقع الاحتلال، لكن قبل أيام قليلة بدا أن قرار بدء العمل المقاوم المتواصل حتى طرد الاحتلال الأميركي قد اتخذ، فكان كلام وزير الخارجية السورية فيصل المقداد عن حتمية انسحاب قوات الاحتلال الأميركي، والا فسيلقى مقاومة شعبية تجبره على الخروج، إشارة واضحة بهذا الاتجاه.

. لم يبق للاحتلال من ذريعة بعد حرمان داعش من أي ملاذ آمن، غير المناطق التي يسيطر عليها الاحتلال الأميركي نفسه، وفضائح قيامه بنقل بعض قيادات داعش الى أفغانستان قبل انسحابه منها ضجت بها وسائل إعلام غربية، وكلام ترامب العلني عن تبرير الاحتلال بسرقة النفط بحد ذاته فضيحة، وطرد الاحتلال سيعني حكماً تحرير ثروات سورية من النفط والغاز، وما يترتب على ذلك من عودة فورية للكهرباء الى كل المناطق السورية، وحل أزمات المحروقات التي يعاني منها كل السوريين، والأميركي معني بأن يفهم بأن قصف معسكراته هذه المرة بالصواريخ ليس إلا بداية لعمل سيتواصل، ويفرض عليه الانسحاب، وعليه أن يختار سحب قواته عمودياً، أي وهم أحياء، قبل أن يبدأ بسحبهم أفقياً، أي في التوابيت.

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قمّة طهران تثمر في إدلب: تحضيرات تركيّة لفتْح «M4»

الجمعة 22 تموز 2022

تعمّد أردوغان خلال قمّة طهران ذكر إدلب والتشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها (أ ف ب)


علاء حلبي 

لم تكد ساعات تمضي على انتهاء قمّة طهران، التي احتلّ الملفّ السوري حيّزاً رئيساً منها، حتى بدأت تركيا سلسلة خطوات على الأرض تمهيداً لفتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، ضمن مقايضة أوّلية تشمل تسليماً جزئياً لمنبج وتل رفعت للجيش السوري. وعلى رغم تواضع الإجراءات المتّصلة بتلك المقايضة إلى الآن، إلّا أن من شأنها، إذا ما آلت إلى نهايتها، ولم تفلح الولايات المتحدة في عرقلتها، أن تُحقّق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، وأن تؤدّي إلى إعادة تشغيل أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4) في سوريا

دمشق | تُعتبر إدلب، أكبر المعاقل التي تتجمّع فيها الفصائل المتشدّدة في سوريا في ظلّ سيطرة «هيئة تحرير الشام» (جبهة النصرة) عليها، أحد أكثر الملفّات إشكالية بين كلّ من تركيا من جهة، وإيران وروسيا من جهة أخرى. وقد حاولت أنقرة، على مدار الأعوام الأربعة الماضية، المماطلة في معالجة هذا الملفّ، وتثبيت أمر واقع لصالحها، بالتوازي مع عمليات تبييض لصفحة «جبهة النصرة» تستهدف إعادة تصديرها على أنها فصيل معتدل، ضمن معادلة تشابكت فيها مجموعة من العوامل. وتفرض اتفاقات سوتشي الموقَّعة بين روسيا وتركيا عام 2018، ومتمّمتها عامَي 2019 و2020، على أنقرة، فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، وعزل الفصائل الإرهابية، مقابل إبعاد «خطر الأكراد» في الشمال والشمال الشرقي من سوريا مسافة 30 كلم عن الحدود التركية، وهو ما تعهّدت روسيا بتنفيذه. غير أن التسويف التركي في تنفيذ تلك الالتزامات، التي ظلّت محدّدة بجدول زمني واضح بعد كلّ لقاء بين الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين ونظيره التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، دفع الروس إلى الردّ بالمثل والمماطلة في حلّ قضية الأكراد، على الرغم من تنشيط دوريات المراقبة المشتركة.

وتعمّد الرئيس التركي، في كلمته التي ألقاها خلال قمّة طهران وفاقت بطولها كلمتَي الرئيس الروسي ونظيره الإيراني، ذكر إدلب في أكثر من موقع. كما تعمّد التشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها، مشيراً إلى أن بلاده «تتفهّم مخاوف جميع الأطراف حول الوضع هناك، لكنها تبذل جهوداً كبيرة في المنطقة وتقدّم الدعم للنازحين على الحدود من دون دعم من دول أخرى». وسبق لإردوغان أن جادل، خلال لقاءات سوتشي السابقة، بالمسائل نفسها، وعلى رأسها وجود أكثر من 1500مخيّم تضمّ مئات آلاف النازحين في ريف إدلب وقرب الحدود مع تركيا، الأمر الذي يمثّل، وفق الرئيس التركي، تهديدات بموجات لجوء جديدة إلى بلاده لا يرغب فيها، في الوقت الذي يحاول فيه أصلاً التخلّص من اللاجئين الموجودين لديه عبر بناء تجمّعات سكنية لهم قرب الشريط الحدودي، من أجل إعادة توطينهم.

ترى موسكو في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية

وبالتوازي مع عقد قمّة طهران، وفي اليوم التالي لها، زار وفد أمني وعسكري تركي مناطق عدّة في إدلب، حيث أجرى سلسلة من اللقاءات، بعضها مع ممثّلين عن سكّان قرى على خطّ التماس في جبل الزاوية، حيث يمرّ طريق حلب – اللاذقية. وبحسب مصادر تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن الوفد طلب من الأهالي الاستعداد للعودة إلى قراهم، وسط وعود بمنْع تدهور الأوضاع الأمنية والعسكرية خلال الفترة المقبلة، بالإضافة إلى أخرى بتحسُّن اقتصادي كبير، حيث سيتمّ فتح طريق «M4»، ومجموعة من المعابر الاقتصادية التي تربط بين إدلب بشكل عام ومناطق سيطرة الحكومة، مع ضمانات باستمرار وصول المساعدات إلى تلك القرى بدلاً من المخيمات. ونقلت المصادر أن الوفد أكّد أكثر من مرّة أن «ملفّ إدلب لن ينزلق إلى العسكرة»، وأنه «بات مرتبطاً بالحلّ السياسي»، لافتةً إلى أن الوفد أجرى لقاءات مغلقة مع «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تسرّب عنها وجود أوامر تركية واضحة لـ«الهيئة» بضبْط محيط الطريق، ومنْع أيّ محاولات من فصائل منفلتة لعرقلة الاتفاق، ومتابعة العمل على إزالة مظاهر التشدّد. وكان أبو محمد الجولاني، زعيم «النصرة»، بدأ، قبل مدّة، بهذه المهام بالفعل، عبر زيارات لقرى تسْكنها أقلّيات، آخرها زيارة لقرية تقطنها عائلات مسيحية لتطمين الأهالي وإزالة مخاوفهم من «الهيئة»، وذلك بالتوازي مع إدخال تعزيزات عسكرية تركية إلى نقاط تمركز القوات التركية في جبل الزاوية. غير أن الجهود التركية لا يبدو أنها تمكّنت حتى الآن من ضبط الأمن، حيث سُجّلت خلال الساعات الماضية عدّة خروقات لوقف إطلاق النار من طرف الفصائل المسلّحة، بالإضافة إلى محاولة شنّ هجمات بطائرتَين انتحاريتَين على قاعدة حميميم الروسية في جبلة.

ويبدو، حتى الآن، أن ثمّة قبولاً، على مضض، من قِبَل موسكو، التي ترى في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، والمتأخّر نحو أربع سنوات عما اتُّفق عليه، خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية، في وقت ينصبّ فيه اهتمام الدول الثلاث (إيران وروسيا وتركيا) على زيادة الضغوط لإخراج القوات الأميركية من الشمال الشرقي من سوريا، وهي الأرضيّة المشتركة التي بنت عليها إيران قمّتها، وحاولت ترسيخها كونها قد تساهم في فتح الأبواب المغلقة بين دمشق وأنقرة. وبشكل عام، يمكن القول إن الرئيس التركي نجح، إلى حدّ ما، في تجميد ملفّ إدلب، وتجاوُز المعادلة الروسية التي تربط بين منبج وتل رفعت من جهة، وإدلب من جهة ثانية، عبر خطوات صغيرة في الأخيرة مقابل تسليم الأُوليَين للجيش السوري. ومن شأن ذلك أن يؤدّي، في حال تمّت الخطوات المتّفق عليها، ولم تنجح المساعي الأميركية القائمة في عرقلتها عبر الضغط على «قسد» ومنعها من تسليم المدينتَين، إلى تحقيق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، بالإضافة إلى فتح أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4)، والذي يمتدّ من أقصى الشرق السوري مروراً بحلب وصولاً إلى الساحل السوري، علماً أن الخطّة الروسية، التي أبلغها قائد القوات الروسية في سوريا، ألكسندر تشايكو، لممثّلي «قسد»، خلال لقاء في القامشلي قبل يومين، تقضي بأن تنسحب قواتها من الشريط الحدودي إلى ما بعد الطريق، على أن يتسلّم الجيش السوري المنطقة بما فيها «M4».

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