A FRENCH delegation, headed by former transport minister Thierry Mariani, has met with Syrian government officials in Damascus and condemned France’s hostile policies toward the Arab country.
The delegation met with Syria’s Speaker of the People’s Assembly Hammoudah Sabbagh who stressed the importance of European delegates visiting the country.
The visits, Sabbagh said, are important to enlightening world public opinion about the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of foreign-backed terrorists.
Mariani, who is currently a member of the National Assembly, expressed regret over his country’s destructive role in Syria. Last Thursday, the French delegation visited Douma in the Damascus countryside and inspected the destruction, tunnels, prisons, and torture chambers left behind by foreign-backed terrorists before Syrian troops retook the city in April.
‘The sight of the prisons that we have seen, especially the cells, indicates that terrorist organisations do not have the least bit of respect for human rights,’ said Mariani. ‘The presence of modern equipment in the carefully-constructed tunnels proves that the terrorists receive assistance and large funding from abroad,’ he added.
The former MP expressed hope that the post-war reconstruction activity would gather pace across the city. He also hailed the reopening of schools and shops as well as the sacrifices of the Syrian army.
Accompanying the delegation, head of the Arab, Foreign and Expatriates Committee at the People’s Assembly Boutros Marjanah said the delegation’s visit demonstrated that the French people don’t share their government’s negative views on Syria.
Having arrived in the Syrian capital earlier this week, Mariani tweeted about Damascus’s festive mood ahead of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who is revered by both Muslims and Christians. ##Syrie. Visiblement ici à #Damas, les crèches dans les espaces publics ne dérangent pas.
Les islamistes en déroute ne font plus la loi et chacun peut pratiquer sa religion librementpic.twitter.com/SwsuLY65FX—ThierryMARIANI?(@ThierryMARIANI) December 19, 2018. Mariani described the festive religious climate as a sign that the Takfiri terrorists have been defeated in the country.
Also commenting on US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement signalling the withdrawal of troops from Syria, Mariani described the event as a victory for Syria and its allies. ‘First of all, this event is a victory for the Syrian people, the Syrian army, and all those who supported them on the ground – Russia and Iran.’
A senior Syrian official has attributed a US decision to withdraw its troops from the war-ravaged country to the steadfastness of the Syrian people and government.
Various French officials, however, have reacted negatively to the news of the US withdrawal from Syria and have vowed to continue France’s military presence.
‘He (Trump) is cutting corners, risking a serious accident… the coalition’s spine is the United States,’ said a French presidential source. The war against Daesh has become an excuse for the Western countries to intervene in Syria and deploy troops without an authorisation from Damascus or the UN. The US-led coalition has been repeatedly accused of targeting and killing civilians across the Arab country.
• Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has vowed to intensify Israel’s ‘efforts’ in Syria after US President Donald Trump announced a full withdrawal of American troops from the Arab country.
‘We will continue to act in Syria to prevent Iran’s efforts to militarily entrench itself against us. We are not reducing our efforts, we will increase our efforts,’ Netanyahu said last Thursday. ‘I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the US,’ Netanyahu said at the fifth Israel-Greece-Cyprus summit held in Beersheba.
Netanyahu said last Wednesday that he had received advanced warning of the US troop pull-out from Syria in telephone conversations with Trump last Monday, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.
Trump on Wednesday announced that US troops had defeated the Daesh terrorists in Syria and he sought to pull some 2,000 US troops out of Syria. Trump has declared victory against Daesh terrorists in Syria as reports suggest that he is planning to pull out American troops from the country.
Trump’s decision upended a central pillar of US Middle East policy, and stunned US lawmakers and allies, who challenged the president’s claim of victory against Daesh.
But Trump says no one should be surprised by the abrupt announcement.
Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018.
Meanwhile, Israel is to continue operations along the Lebanon border. In his Thursday comments, the Israeli premier vowed that the Israeli military will continue its operations along the occupied Palestinian territories’ border with Lebanon, where Tel Aviv claims are tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
‘These tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran,’ Netanyahu claimed.
He also described it as part of ‘the Iranian web of aggression in the Middle East’ and vowed to keep destroying the “tunnels” until its total annihilation. On December 4th, the Israeli military started its operation along Lebanon’s border under the pretext of ‘cutting off’ what it claims are tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus claimed that ‘a number of tunnels’ had penetrated the Israeli-occupied territories. He claimed that Hezbollah has been developing an offensive plan that would ‘shift the battleground into Israel’. According to unnamed Israeli officials, the operation would likely ‘take weeks’.
Israeli military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the Lebanese government was responsible for the build-up of the tunnels. Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri warned the Tel Aviv regime against launching a new military aggression against his country, saying they would not succeed in case it opted to do so.
Delivering a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London on December 13th, Hariri downplayed the possibility of Israel waging another war on Lebanon, questioning what the Israeli military’s previous wars had accomplished. ‘Did Israeli attacks weaken Hezbollah?’ he commented.
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri says Israel will not succeed in case it decides to launch another war on Lebanon. Hariri noted that whilst Beirut does not want war, the Tel Aviv regime does not want peace.
‘Netanyahu doesn’t want peace. He wants a little piece of Lebanon, a little piece of Jordan and a little of Palestine,’ the Lebanese premier-designate pointed out. The remarks came four days after Hezbollah deputy secretary general said the Lebanese resistance movement’s arms capability has deterred Israel from aggression against Lebanon, stressing that ‘there is not a point in Israel not exposed to Hezbollah rockets.’
Hezbollah’s second-in-command says the entirety of Israel is within the range of the Lebanese resistance movement’s missiles. ‘Ever since 2006, Israel has been deterred by the ability of (Hezbollah),’ Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with Iranian Arabic-language al-Vefagh newspaper published on December 9th, adding that all of Israel, ‘even Tel Aviv’, is subject to Hezbollah’s rockets.
A Hezbollah official warns Israel against invading Lebanon, saying the resistance movement is strong enough to block any military aggression and respond to it.
Hariri noted that whilst Beirut does not want war, the Tel Aviv regime does not want peace.
‘Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t want peace. He wants a little piece of Lebanon, a little piece of Jordan and a little of Palestine,’ the Lebanese premier-designate pointed out. Hariri said that Lebanon wants peace based on Arab League decisions, ‘but do they (Israel) know what they want?’
‘You open the news and see headlines like, “Lebanon has tunnels into Israel” and some allegations that it’s Hezbollah,’ he said, referring to a recent operation that the Israeli military has undertaken to block what it claims are tunnels Hezbollah has dug into occupied territories.
Israeli military forces have fired warning shots in the air near the border with Lebanon.
Hariri underscored that Israel violates Lebanon’s sovereignty on a daily basis. ‘Have you ever heard of how many sorties into Lebanon or its international waters from Israel? Has anyone? Do you think this is fair?’ he questioned.
He said that Israel conducted 150 incursions into Lebanon last month. ‘Do you think it’s fair for our international waters to be penetrated 10 to 20 times a month?’
Hariri concluded that Israel still occupies parts of Lebanon, namely the Shebaa Farms.