Syria: ‘festivities turning into funerals’ after crimes by ‘moderate opposition’

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PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad stressed on Sunday that Syria is keen to keep working to push forward Russia’s efforts for holding a second round of inter-Syrian talks in Moscow.

On January 26-29, the Russian capital hosted a round of talks that brought together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition figures and parties.

The discussions were held in the framework of consultations to prepare for a Syrian-Syrian dialogue to solve the crisis in the country, and ended up in the government delegation and some representatives of the opposition agreeing to a set of guidelines proposed by Russia.

The guidelines, which were called ‘Moscow principles’, laid stress on maintaining Syria’s sovereignty and unity, fighting terrorism, settling the crisis peacefully and politically and rejecting any foreign interference.

The continued Russian efforts were discussed on Sunday in a meeting between President al-Assad and Russia’s Special Envoy Azmatullah Kolmohammadov and the accompanying delegation.

President al-Assad stressed that the government and people of Syria trust the Russian leadership and believe in its relentless efforts to find a solution in the country.

He, however, referred to the impediments put in the path of reaching such a solution by some regional and western countries, noting that chief among those obstructions is having those countries continuing their support, in all forms, to the terrorist organisations.

The Russian Envoy held the Syrian government’s openness to the political initiatives in Syria in high regard, hailing the steps which the government has taken to help these initiatives succeed, including the local reconciliations it has achieved.

This, Kolmohammadov said, asserts that the Syrian leadership is indeed keen to stop the bloodshed in the country by all possible means.

The talks during the meeting also stressed that bringing any political process in Syria to fruition is contingent on action on the international level to pressure the countries that reject a solution and are backing the terrorist organisations in order to deter them from continuing this course of theirs.

The meeting was attended by Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem, Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad and Advisor to Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous.

On the Russian side, Ambassador in Damascus Alexander Kinschacka and Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaly Naumkin were present at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army and armed forces continued on Sunday fighting terrorist organisations in different areas of the country, killing and in injuring many of their members, some of them non-Syrians.

Units of army and armed forces attacked in accurate concentrated operations strongholds of the terrorist organisations of Jabhat al-Nusra and the so-called ‘al-Muthanna Movement’ in Jamrinn and Smad towns and Busra al-Sham city, 40 km to the east of Daraa city.

The operations left a number of terrorists killed and others injured in Jamrin and Smad, while arms and ammunition, including a 130 mm calibre gun and two armoured vehicles, were destroyed during the operations in Busra al-Sham city.

The terrorist organisations acknowledged on social media the killing of Suleiman al-Hariri, a deputy leader within ‘Aamoud Houran’ group, and a number of other terrorists.

Meanwhile, an army unit targeted a gathering of terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra on Busra al-Sham-Hamrin road, destroying two SUV vehicles, one of which equipped with a heavy machine gun.

In al-Neima town, east of Daraa city, more terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra were killed or injured and their arms and ammunition were destroyed in operations there.

In a relevant context, an army unit foiled an attack launched by a terrorist group linked to Jabhat al-Nusra from Enkhil against the residents of Qita town, where most of the group’s members were killed.

In the countryside of the northern Idlib province, army units killed scores of terrorists on Idlib-Binnesh road, some of them were non-Syrians.

The army launched intensive strikes using various types of weapons on positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organisation in the area surrounding Mantaf town in Areeha area, destroying two of the organisation’s dens and vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns.

Another army unit destroyed an armoured vehicle, in addition to vehicles equipped with heavy guns, on the road of Maartamsarin, north of Idlib city.

In the north of the country, a unit of the army killed a number of terrorists organisations’ members and destroyed their vehicles in Khan Touman in Jabal Samaan area in Aleppo province on the international high way to Turkey.

Another unit of the army launched strikes on the terrorists’ dens in the surrounding of al-Mallah farms in the northern countryside of the province, killing and wounding a number of their members and destroying their arms and ammunition.

In Homs province, other units of the army and armed forces killed and injured members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organisation in Unq al-Hawa and Rahoum in the eastern countryside of Homs.

Two people were killed Saturday as terrorists launched attacks against the villages of Bikka and Zaybin in the southwestern countryside of Sweida in southern Syria, according to police.

The terrorists infiltrated towards the two villages earlier that morning coming from Samad village in the southwestern countryside of the neighbouring Daraa province.

They fired six mortar shells on the area between Bikka and Zaybin villages, leaving two people dead, while a third one was injured, police said.

In a separate development, Syria complained to the UN on Saturday over the deadly terrorist blast that hit Hasaka city on Friday.

Last Friday, terrorists detonated two car bombs in al-Shuhadaa Square in al-Mufti residential neighbourhood in Hasaka, claiming the lives of 100 civilians and injuring more than 96 others, most of them women and children.

Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in two identical letters it addressed to the UN Secretary General and Chairman of the United Nations Security Council that the attack coincided with the Syrians’ celebrations of Newroz, with festivities turning into funerals and a colossal national tragedy.

The new carnage adds to a long list of terrorist crimes in all Syrian provinces committed by what is called ‘moderate opposition’, said the ministry.

The ministry reminded of Syria’s repeated appeals for the UN to take a firm line against terrorists and the countries backing them, urging the international community to ‘sever ties with terrorist organisations and stop trying to attain narrow political ends at the expense of the Syrians’ blood and suffering’.

Meanwhile, the letters warned that ‘the evils of terrorism won’t stop at Syria’s borders but will reach other countries,’ calling for full cooperation with the Syrian government in the fight against terrorism.

Syria demands that the UN Security Council take deterrent measures against terrorist groups and the countries sponsoring terrorism, the letters added.

The letters concluded by affirming that Syria is bent on fighting terrorism and protecting its citizens, side by side with efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis via a Syrian-led dialogue.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, condemned the attacks targeting Newroz celebrations in Al-Hasaka City in Syria.

He said in a Saturday statement that these heinous attacks took place during a holiday that is customarily a time for Kurdish communities to come together to share their hopes for the new year.

The Secretary-General extended his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

The Secretary-General stressed that the despicable agenda of Daesh (Arabic acronim for Islamic State IS), which announced its responsibility of these attacks, includes efforts to incite sectarian and ethnic division among Syria’s diverse communities, must not be allowed to succeed.

The Secretary-General reiterated his condemnation of all acts of violence against civilians in Syria, and his demand that all sides in this brutal conflict stop the use of indiscriminate weapons in populated areas.