Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα civilians. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα civilians. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 22, 2014

Blackwater guards convicted in Iraq killings

Four former employees of the US security company Blackwater have been convicted of almost every charge related to the shootings of more than 30 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad seven years ago.
The jury in Washington found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, and the three other ex-security guards - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard - were convicted on Wednesday of committing multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007.

The trial focused on the killings of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others.
The shootings, which came in the fourth year of the US military invasion of the country, triggered an international uproar over the role of defence contractors, who were hired by the US State Department to protect American diplomats in the Middle Eastern country. 
The four men were charged with a combined 33 counts in the shootings and the jury is expected to continue deliberating on the other counts.
However, Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, noted that "even though the men were convicted, the sentencing has not yet been settled".
"They [convicts] plan to appeal the verdicts," she said. 
"The end of the legal saga is not yet in sight."

Legal battles
The case was mired in legal battles for years, making it uncertain whether the defendants would ever be tried.
There was sharp disagreement over the facts in the case. 
The defendants' lawyers said there was strong evidence the guards were targeted with gunfire from fighters and Iraqi police, leading the Blackwater employees to shoot back in self-defence. 
However, federal prosecutors said there was no incoming gunfire and that the shootings by the guards were unprovoked.
One of the government witnesses in the case, Blackwater guard Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed Iraqi mother sitting in the passenger seat of a car driven by her son.
  Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
22/10/14

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 29, 2014

Statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the events in Ukraine

From the Official Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (Statements and speeches):

"The centrality given to false claims of Russian aggression and incursions by our troops and armoured vehicles in discussions of the crisis in Ukraine raises a number of serious questions.
Why do those clamouring for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council consistently block our proposals for a comprehensive discussion of the origins of the Ukrainian tragedy and for collective action on a solution that serves the interests of all Ukrainian people, and instead treat Ukraine like a bargaining chip in unilateral geopolitical schemes?

Why do our partners in the UN Security Council, the OSCE and other international organisations consistently refuse to discuss the aerial bombardment and shelling of Ukrainian cities and towns, where entire neighbourhoods, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and Orthodox churches are destroyed and civilians continue to be killed?
Why do the Western capitals continue only to urge the Kiev government to use “proportionate” force instead of denouncing these crimes?
 
In every other conflict in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world, the West invariably opposes and demands an end to actions that harm civilians. And yet it takes the diametrically opposed position on southeast Ukraine in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
 
Our partners surely understand that the military objective of the self-defence forces in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions is to push back Ukrainian forces to a distance where they are unable to use heavy weaponry, including multiple-launch rocket systems and ballistic missiles, against cities, killing innocent civilians and destroying critical infrastructure.
When Kiev says that negotiations will only begin after the capitulation of those it calls “separatists,” the self-defence forces are left with no choice but to keep fighting to defend their homes and families.
 
Regarding the detention of Russian military personnel in Ukraine, we have provided explanations of how they turned up in Ukraine. Ukrainian military personnel have entered Russia more than once, including with armoured vehicles. We provided them with medical treatment and other assistance and let them go. We expect Ukraine to act in a reciprocal way and without delay. 
 
We also call on Kiev to end provocations against Russian diplomatic missions and staff in Ukraine. The latest outrage, occurring on 28 August in Kiev, involved security staff of the Russian Embassy, including the bodyguard of the Russian Ambassador. They were detained while exiting a café under the patently fabricated charge of carrying grenades, even though they showed their diplomatic passports. We insist on the immediate release of all Russian Embassy staff and urge Kiev to refrain from further violations of international conventions on diplomatic immunity.
 
As for the issue of who is fighting and where, we have pointed out more than once that there are many volunteers from foreign countries fighting on both sides in Ukraine. We have repeatedly inquired about specific media reports on this matter with our partners, including the “work” of retired US Special Forces soldiers in Ukraine and the role of US advisers and instructors in planning the operations of Ukrainian forces. Of course, there are Russian volunteers in Ukraine, and they are fighting on both sides. But the selective outrage of the international community over this or that symptom of the Ukrainian crisis will not help end it. It is important not to give into the temptation to distract from the main issue: the need for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire followed quickly by an inclusive national dialogue in Ukraine. This is the goal which Kiev, the EU and the United States agreed on with Russia. We honour these agreements and urge our partners to stop torpedoing their implementation.
 
This is the only path forward, provided the West really cares about the interests of not only the loyal portion of Ukraine’s political spectrum, but the entire multiethnic population of the Ukrainian state, whose future depends on national reconciliation.
 
Russia will work persistently to create conditions for negotiations by fostering trust between the opposing sides and taking practical measures to de-escalate the situation and help people who are suffering from the humanitarian crisis. This is the message expressed by President Vladimir Putin in his address on 29 August. We are urging all sides in Ukraine and all Western partners to show the good will to find a purely peaceful solution to the problems we face."
http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/660EA8ECF9378E3A44257D430060C61F
29/8/14
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Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 08, 2014

Ukraine: UN alarmed by intensifying clashes, mounting casualties in country’s east


UN, 8 August 2014 – A senior United Nations human rights official today declared the situation in Eastern Ukraine “extremely alarming” with intensifying fighting, mounting casualties and serious damage to infrastructure.
Briefing the Security Council, Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, expressed concern over the “rapid professionalization of armed groups, which are increasingly well-organized and equipped with heavy weaponry.”

“Fighting in and around population centres has resulted in heavy loss of life and very significant damage to property and civilian infrastructure. Both sides must be reminded of the imperative that they act proportionately and take precautions to avoid deaths and injury of civilians: otherwise,” he warned.
  • The human rights situation has deteriorated significantly in pockets of territory in Luhansk and Donetsk, which are controlled by armed groups and where the Government has been undertaking its security operations.
According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the World Health Organization (WHO) since mid-April, more than 1,543 people have been killed in the east, including civilians, the military and members of the armed groups. Some 4,396 have been confirmed wounded but the real number is likely to be much higher.
“The fabric of society is being torn apart by the continuous and ongoing violence and fighting; the misinformation being spread is building divisive narratives, hardening people’s resolve and deepening social divides,” warned Mr. Šimonović.
  • In the Crimea region, harassment and discrimination has intensified against Ukrainian nationals, Crimean Tatars, religious minorities, and activists who opposed the 16 March “referendum”. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 15,200 people have left Crimea, while tens of thousands of people continue to flee the fighting in the east. The total number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine stands at over 117,910.
Freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, movement and religion, have also taken a toll, he continued. In the east, these rights have been strictly curtailed by the armed groups.
  • Worrying trends show the rise of hate speech, particularly in social media, and a number of incidents targeting Russian-owned banks and businesses on the grounds that they are allegedly ”financing terrorism.” Journalists have also come under attack, especially in the east, where attempts at media manipulation have been especially egregious, said Mr. Šimonović.
He said he was particularly worried about children who remain in harm’s way. According to Ukrainian authorities, some 300 children are still in orphanages in the areas under the control of armed groups. Residents in the east affected by the prolonged may need psychological assistance to heal and rebuild their lives, particularly children. Many others will require help to recover, such as victims of torture and former hostages, especially those held for long periods.
  • He called for a multi-year human rights action plan for Ukraine based on the recommendations of the UN human rights mechanisms and the work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission. The Government will need to address wider systemic problems, such as corruption, facing the country with respect to good governance, the rule of law and human rights.
“We cannot afford to wait a day longer, when at least 50 people are being killed or wounded every day. The price being paid by all Ukrainians as a result of the conflict is too high,” he added.
As for the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people on 17 July, he said that while the downing of the aircraft may constitute a war crime, a thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation is needed to determine the facts and circumstances of this act.
  • “This investigation is now underway, led by the Netherlands,” he said, underscoring in that regard that it is disturbing to learn that the volatile security situation at the crash site continues to hamper the investigators, despite the ceasefire zone declared by the Government of Ukraine around the area.
“It is urgent to stop the fighting and to secure the crash site,” declared Mr. Šimonović, adding that at the same time of course, there needs to be accountability for those responsible for war crimes, serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights law, as documented by the findings of the UN Monitoring Mission. 
[un.org]
8/8/14
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Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 14, 2014

U.S. warns against Israeli ground invasion of Gaza

The United States on Monday warned against any Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, saying it would put even more civilians at risk than are currently in the crossfire of attacks on Hamas.
But the White House stopped short of criticizing Israel over the civilian toll so far in Gaza of the offensive, saying the government had a "right" and "responsibility" to defend their citizens against rocket attacks.

"Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing.


It was the first time that the White House has specifically warned in a public forum against a full Israeli invasion of Gaza, though other US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have previously said Washington would not like to see such a step.

The comments apparently reflect growing US concern over a possible escalation of the conflict, which Washington has offered to use its regional leverage to mediate.

Earnest said that Washington remained concerned about civilian casualties and called on both sides to minimize them.

But he declined to answer a question as to whether Israel, which has used the US-built Iron Dome system to shoot down Hamas rockets, was using appropriate force, given the rising casualty figures among civilians in the Gaza Strip.

He put the onus on Palestinian radicals to take steps that would lead to an alleviation of the misery of civilians in Gaza.

"We need Hamas to stop launching rockets that are putting Israeli citizens in harm's way," he said.

"At the same time, the United States is also very concerned about those Palestinian civilians who are in harm's way.

"That's why we've been urging Israeli political leaders and Palestinian leaders to do everything necessary to try to safeguard the safety and well-being of civilians on both sides of the border."

Last Update: Monday, 14 July 2014 KSA 22:05 - GMT 19:05 
[english.alarabiya.net]

Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 05, 2013

Afghans allege civilian deaths in NATO raid. -Officials say children among five killed in Nangarhar, but US-led coalition says initial reports show no civilians dead.

At least five civilians, including three children, have been killed in a NATO air attack in eastern Afghanistan, according to government officials.
The civilians, aged between 12 and 20, were killed overnight on Friday while they were out hunting birds in the area of Saracha, a few miles from Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, provincial police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.
However, the US-led coalition said that it targeted fighters and that its initial reports indicate no civilian casualties.

Lieutenant-Colonel Will Griffin, a spokesman for the coalition, told the Associated Press news agency that the attack near an airport used by NATO forces was a "precision coordinated strike".



But Mashreqiwal said: "Last night around 11 pm, five civilians aged between 12 and 20 carrying air guns wanted to go hunting birds some eight kilometres from the centre of the city of Jalalabad.
"They were targeted and killed by a foreign forces air strike."
Their bodies were brought to the central hospital, he said.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a Nangarhar spokesman, confirmed the incident.
Mohammad Atif Shinwari, spokesman for the Nangarhar education department, said: "Three of the civilians killed in the airstrike were school children, two were brothers."

Source of friction
Civilian casualties during NATO operations have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and US-led NATO troops, who are winding down operations as they prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.
Last month, a NATO air raid killed at least 16 civilians, including women and children, in neighbouring Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack hit a pickup vehicle and killed all on board, Afghan officials said. However, NATO denied that civilians died in the attack, saying the strike had killed fighters.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban launched their insurgency in 2001 after being ousted in a US-led invasion.
As NATO troops wind down operations and Afghan security forces take charge of security responsibility countrywide, violence has been on the increase.
More than 1,000 civilians were killed and around 2,000 others were injured in the first half of 2013, according to a UN report, a 23 percent increase from the same period last year.
aljazeera.com
5/10/13

Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 14, 2013

Syria: UN humanitarian chief urges pause in fighting to allow access to trapped civilians.


13 September 2013 – As fighting between Syrian Government and opposition forces continue to intensify, the United Nations humanitarian chief today called on all sides to agree to a pause in the hostilities so that relief agencies could gain “immediate and unhindered access” to evacuate desperate civilians trapped in towns and cities increasingly under siege.
“I am extremely worried by reports that more than half a million people remain trapped in Rural Damascus,” Valerie Amos said in a statement, noting, for example that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is receiving “very disturbing reports” from the town of Moadamyieh, which is just a few kilometres from the capital

“It is reported that the town has been besieged for the last 10 months, suffering daily shelling and armed clashes between Government and opposition groups,” says Ms. Amos, adding that UN humanitarian agencies have been unable to deliver supplies for nearly a year, despite repeated attempts, due to security constraints. 

Most of the 70,000 population of the area has fled but some 12,000 people remain trapped, unable to get enough food for their families. There are cases of severe malnutrition among children, as well as the spread of skin and respiratory diseases, she said.

As the “horrendous” crisis has continued to deepen with civilians being targeted or denied access to food and emergency medical treatment in many places across Syria, Ms. Amos urged all parties to agree a pause in hostilities to allow humanitarian agencies immediate and unhindered access to evacuate the wounded and provide life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting is ongoing. “Civilians must be allowed to move to safer areas,” she said.
  • “I would remind the Government and other parties to this conflict once again that they have an obligation under international human rights and international humanitarian law to protect civilians and allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need,” she said.
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45846&Cr=syria&Cr1=#.UjNzaX-IzJc
13/9/13
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UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 12, 2013

Dramatic report: Inside the battle for Syria's ancient Christian village (VIDEO RT).


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Anti-Assad rebels have been forced out of many parts of Syria’s ancient Christian village of Maaloula, but the fighting there remains heavy, RT correspondent Maria Finoshina reports from the scene.
After arriving in the center of the village Wednesday, Maria Finoshina and the RT camera crew saw signs of a recent battle and heard shelling, but received a warm welcome from smiling and relieved Syrian Army soldiers, who said the village was freed from jihadists. The claim would later in the day turn out to be premature.


Al-Nusra Front fighters first attacked the village last Wednesday. The following seven days saw Maaloula torn between the rebels and government forces, with both occasionally gaining control over the village. 

Some residents, who claim rebels have resorted to looting, executions and forcing residents to convert to Islam, chose to join the Army to defend their village. Among them, Saba Ubeid, a store owner, said when filmed by RT in 2012 that he was sure the rebels would never come to the village. This time he was armed with a gun and fought alongside Syrian soldiers. 

“They sent terrorists here from all corners of the world to kill Syrian people and each other. Why? I ask the world, why?” he cried out.  “While in Europe if a citizen is simply slapped in his face, there'll be a scandal. While Syrians – how many victims, how many hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered? When it will stop?”
 http://rt.com/news/syria-chistian-vallage-fighting-766/
12/9/13 
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  • In Ma’loula: Ringing Bells and Worshipers, Not Barricades and Slaughterers....

Director of the Catholic Information Center, Father Abdo Abu Kasam, said that what happened in the Syrian town of Ma'loula is the result of violence and the senseless war under the guise of democracy and freedoms.

In a statement he made to Al-Manar Website Friday, Abu Kasam wondered: "What freedoms they are seeking in a time when churches are violated and houses of worship are burnt which is supposed to be a place to build love."

"Attacking the holy sites of Christianity affects the Christian heritage and entity. Ma'loula is an ancient city which houses monasteries and not barricades, where you hear the bells ringing not the sound of guns, where people pray and do not slaughter," the Father told Al-Manar Website.

"Pope Francis has called on the international community, the G20 leaders, the United Nations and the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to say 'stop the violence in Syria and come to establish and build a culture of peace and stand against the war which would be launched on Syria and to help its people instead' just like the Pope did when he called for a day of prayer for Syria," Abu Kasam went on to say.

Abu Kasam stressed that "war only generates war and violence only generates violence."

"Do Muslims accept the churches to be violated?", Abu Kasam asked, adding that he was waiting for an official stance of the Islamic clerics, pointing out that Islam is a religion of mercy and not of cracking, killing and slaughter.

"Come to meet for the one word to build a culture of peace among ourselves," Father Abu Kasam concluded, calling upon those who support the armed groups in Syria to reconsider their accounts and learn more on those whom they support, feed and finance.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=109459&cid=23&fromval=1
7/9/13

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  • Jihadists Force Syria Christian ’to Convert at Gunpoint’...

Jihadists who overran Syria's ancient town of Ma'loula last week disparaged Christians as "Crusaders" and forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint, say residents who fled the town.

Many of Ma'loula people left after a first militant assault knocked out an army checkpoint at the entrance to the strategic town on September 4. Some went to a nearby village and others to Damascus, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) to the south.

One of them, Marie, was still frightened as she spoke of that day.

"They arrived in our town at dawn... and shouted 'We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders," an Islamist term for Christians, Marie said in Damascus, where she and hundreds of others attended the burial Tuesday of three Christian fighters who belong to the public committees.

Ma'loula is one of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Home to around 5,000 people, it is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip around the capital.

Security sources stress that the Syrian militants still deploy in Ma'loula, although the militants had announced yesterday that they would withdraw from the town in case the Syrian army did not return to it.

Syrian militants were still positioned in a historic Christian town near Damascus on Wednesday, a day after they announced they were ready to withdraw, a security source told Agence France Presse.

"The army has not yet retaken Ma'loula. The battles are raging on, but (the army) is making progress," the source said.

"The insurgents till hold some positions inside Ma'loula and its surroundings," the source added.

The militant groups announced on Tuesday they would withdraw from Ma'loula, but that this was "conditional" on army troops not taking their place.

The Syrian insurgents had invaded Ma'loula last week, targeting the civilians and the churches before the Syrian army started his campaign to regain the peaceful town.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=109888&cid=23&fromval=1
11/9/13
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Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 26, 2013

Any attack on Syria will be taken as an attack on Iran - Tehran aide

Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser on international affairs to the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, warned Saturday that any attack on Syria will be taken as an attack on Iran or its allies, according to the Reuters news agency.

Tehran has already made strongly-worded warnings against an overthrow of al-Assad, who’s engaged in a large-scale armed struggle against the opposition forces that are doing their utmost to come to power.
The conflict in Syria has been raging since March 2011.


According to the United Nations, over 60,000 have already fallen victim to the fighting.

The government in Damascus claims that they have to deal with resistance by heavily-armed gunmen, relying on outside support.

Voice of Russia, Reuters
26/01/13

Τετάρτη, Ιανουαρίου 23, 2013

Syrian rebels burn and plunder religious sites – Human Rights Watch

Syrian rebels have looted and burned minority religious sites in Northern Syria, US-based Human Rights Watch says. The attacks highlight the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict as the bloodshed continues unabated.
The three incidents took place in November and December of last year in religiously mixed areas.
Rebels looted two Christian churches in separate villages in the relatively peaceful western governorate of Latakia, local witnesses told the rights watchdog.
They also destroyed a Shiite ‘husseiniya’ – a religious site devoted to Hussein, a martyr in Shiite tradition – in Idlib governorate.
In all three cases, Human Rights Watch found evidence showing the attacks on the religious sites were directly connected to the areas coming under the control of the armed rebels.

After rebels took control of Jdeideh village in Latakia on December 11, a local resident told the group gunmen broke into and stole from the church, letting off multiple rounds inside which caused structural damage. Damage to the sealed-off church, including broken windows and evidence of forced entry, were observed by the group a week after the attack.
The priests’ quarters next to the church were also appropriated by rebel gunmen, who used it as a base to fire upon government forces in a neighboring village. A resident said medicine had been stolen from a clinic belonging to the church, homes had been looted and civilians were kidnapped, at times for ransom.
In the village of Ghasaniyeh, gunmen broke into another church, stealing gas and diesel fuel in late November. A cross had been left on the floor, but apart from the forced entry, no other damaged was observed.
"While the motivation for the church break-ins may have been theft rather than a religious attack, opposition fighters have a responsibility to protect religious sites in areas under their control from willful damage and theft," Human Rights Watch said.
The destruction of the Shia holy site was carried out on December 11 after rebels took control of Zarzour village.
A video published on YouTube the following day purportedly showed armed rebel celebrating the expulsion of government forces from the village as a fire rages in the Shia mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
One rebel, identifying himself as a member of the Amr bin Ma’ad Yakrib al-Zubaydi Brigade, proclaims the "destruction of the dens of the Shiites and Rafida," a derogatory term used against the Muslim denomination.
Rebel fighters claimed government forces torched the mosque before leaving, but two local residents said anti-government forces set the fire upon seizing the town.
Human Rights Watch independently confirmed that the damage to the site had been deliberate, lending credence to the video’s authenticity. The investigators witnessed that the windows at the site had been shattered, prayer stones were strewn across the floor, religious posters had been ripped off the walls, and charred items lay in a pile on the floor, indicating “they were piled on top of one another and deliberately set on fire.”
“The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country, with tens of thousands killed,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship. Leaders on both sides should send a message that those who attack these sites will be held accountable,” she continued.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
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Christians in crosshairs

Multiple reports of attacks on minority religious sites have surfaced in Syria as the armed conflict to out Syrian President Bashar Assad has killed more than 60,000 people and driven over 650,000 out of the country, according to UN estimates.
The 22-month-old rebellion has taken on increasingly sectarian dimensions, as primarily Sunni Muslim rebels have battled pro-government Alawites – an offshoot of Shiite Islam – and many Christians who link their survival to that of the Assad government.
Christians have increasingly viewed the current government as a guarantor of their religious freedoms. Religious persecution faced by Egyptian and Iraqi Christians in the wake of regime change has only increased fears that religiously tolerant Syria will be transformed by Islamist elements of the opposition.
Such sentiments have put them in the crosshairs of rebel fighters.
In August, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported a massacre in nearby Jandar village which left 16 civilians, mostly Alawites and Christians, dead.
In June, at least 9,000 Christians from the western Syrian city of Qusayr neighboring Homs were reportedly forced to seek refuge after an ultimatum from a local military chief of the armed opposition.
In March, sources inside the Syrian Orthodox Church have claimed the systematic “ethnic cleansing of Christians" by the Free Syrian Army was taking place in Homs.
A letter sent to Agenzia Fides – the Vatican’s press agency – by Orthodox sources in Syria said that “Militant armed Islamists…have managed to expel 90 per cent of Christians in Homs and confiscated their homes by force.”
Agnes Mariam, a local Christian leader in Syria, told RT in September that the persecution of Christians was a reflection of how their faith had excluded them from Islamist elements within the opposition.
“The Christians have been discriminated against not because they are Christians, but because by being Christians they couldn’t participate in Islamist demonstrations. Sometimes, this led to severe violence against them. You know, we had more than 200,000 Christians that had to flee out [of Syria] because of this ambiguous position.”
.rt.com 
23/1/13

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
 An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user @syriarage showing Syrian rebels seizing the village of Zarzour on December 11 2012, where they allegedly torched the local mosque.

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 11, 2013

La pérdida de Taftanaz es un duro golpe para Bashar Asad según EEUU

La pérdida de la base aérea de Taftanaz, en el norte de Siria, supone un golpe duro al régimen de Bashar Asad, declaró hoy la portavoz del Departamento de Estado de EEUU, Victoria Nuland.
“Entendemos que la oposición armada lanzó una ofensiva de bastante envergadura en Taftanaz, la principal base aérea en el norte (de Siria), en Idlib. La pérdida de esta base sería, desde luego, un golpe considerable a la capacidad del régimen de Asad de reabastecer a sus fuerzas en el norte”, señaló Nuland en rueda de prensa.
Aunque los combates allí continúan, agregó, es una demostración de la creciente fuerza de la oposición armada que trata de priorizar actualmente los ataques al potencial aéreo del régimen, dado que los bombardeos desde el aire resultan especialmente mortíferos para civiles.

Nuland dijo que EEUU sigue apoyando a la oposición armada, pero sin proporcionarle material letal.
Según Reuters, grupos rebeldes expulsaron este viernes a los últimos efectivos del Ejército gubernamental desde Taftanaz, la segunda en importancia base de helicópteros siria y la más grande en el norte del país.
Portavoces de la insurgencia anunciaron que su objetivo no es retener la base sino destruir sus infraestructuras y helicópteros para que no puedan usarse en hostilidades. También vaciaron los amplios arsenales de armas y municiones en el recinto de la base, según demuestra un vídeo publicado en el portal YouTube.
Las tropas regulares lanzaron bombas, cohetes y proyectiles contra los atacantes en un intento de recuperar la base pero no lo consiguieron.
http://sp.rian.ru/international/20130111/156119467.html
11/1/13

Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 06, 2013

President Assad outlines political solution to Syrian conflict


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 Syria’s president has outlined a plan to end the country's conflict, starting with a halt to international support to “al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.” The solution proposes a new constitution and government, as well as national reconciliation.
President Bashar Assad said that his government had never refused a political solution, but would not negotiate with terrorists. He then stressed that the only solution was a Syrian proposal to end the crisis.
“The political solution entails regional and international powers halting their support for armed groups, which will be followed by a halt in our security forces' crackdown against them,” Assad said in his first public address to the people of Syria since June.


He claimed the move would be followed by dialogue with all parties who work in Syria’s interests, in the form of a national conference on the creation of a truce and the drafting of a new constitution to be put to public vote. The charter would form the basis of the new Syrian government.
The final step would be a national reconciliation process, including amnesty for those imprisoned during the crisis.
Assad stated that his government had not yet found any  partners willing to back a solution to Syria’s ongoing crisis. However, he did thank Russia, China and Iran for not “interfering in Syrian affairs.”
He also criticized the Syrian opposition, referring to the rebels as “Western puppets” and “terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda.” 
"We have terrorists who follow the ideology of al-Qaeda. We brothers fight against these people. Most of them are not Syrian… We will teach them a lesson," Assad said.
He called for a national mobilization to fight the “murderous criminals” besieging the country.
"Everyone must defend it… the attack on the entire nation… every citizen who is aware… and refusing to join solutions is taking the nation backwards," he said.
­

International condemnation

Reaction from the international community followed Assad’s speech almost instantaneously with the nascent opposition group the National Coalition dismissing it as an attempt to thwart diplomatic solutions to the conflict.
While Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague described Assad’s words as “beyond hypocritical” and said that his “empty promises would not fool anyone.”
The European Union said that it was time for the Syrian leader to step down following the speech.
Assad gave his speech in Damascus’ central opera house to a throng of staunch supporters, who punctuated his speech with cheers of encouragement.
The Syrian leader was mobbed by exultant supporters after the speech.
"With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!" the crowd chanted following the speech.
According to figures collated by the UN, at least 60,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it began 21 months ago.
The UN-Arab League peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is pushing for a transitional government, one ambiguous on the question of Assad's future role. Opposition groups have demanded the immediate resignation of the Syrian leader.
 http://rt.com
6/1/13

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 28, 2012

Syria shells capital area as protests surge / two generals reportedly defect.


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Ex-general Abdel Aziz Jassem al-Shallal purportedly joins rebels on YouTube, saying army turned into "murderous gangs". ( 28-Dec-2012 ) 
State warplanes pound Damascus province, as anti-regime rallies erupt across country and two generals reportedly defect.


Syrian military planes have launched air raids in Damascus province after overnight bombardments and clashes across the country.
The raids on Friday came as Syrians took to the streets in fresh nationwide rallies against President Bashar al-Assad.
Government forces in the suburbs of Damascus have been trying to take back areas they had lost after rebel attacks on military checkpoints and activists say that further air raids were expected there.
In Damascus city, several rockets hit the Qaboon district in the northeast of the capital, activists said, while clashes between rebels and the army erupted in the southern neighbourhood of Qadam, which was also bombarded.
Fighting was also reported in Daraya, a town in southern Damascus, which Assad's forces have been trying to retake for weeks.
There were also clashes in Yalda in the south and Douma in the northeast,  as well as an attack on a military position northeast of Damascus between the  provincial town of Irbin and the suburb of Harasta.
In Aleppo, Syria's northern commercial hub, clashes took place between rebel fighters and army forces around an air force intelligence building in the Zahira quarter, a neighbourhood that has been surrounded by rebels for weeks.
Overnight shelling was also reported in the central provinces of Hama and Homs.
Generals' defection
At least 142 people were reported killed in violence across Syria. Activists say that more than 40,000 have been killed since an uprising against Assad began in mid-March 2011.
Meanwhile, officials at Turkey's foreign ministry on Friday said two Syrian air force generals have defected and crossed the border.
The officials said the two generals were "regional Syrian Air Force commanders" and are now in a camp where army defectors stay in Turkey.
They refused to give the generals' identities or say how they escaped from Syria. They spoke anonymously as they were not authorised to talk to the press.
The defection comes days after the commander of Syria's military police Major General Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal defected to Turkey.
Shallal is among the most senior members of Assad's military to defect. Dozens of Syrian generals have defected since the uprising began.
.aljazeera.com
28/12/12

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 23, 2012

North Korea rocket launch was 'missile test'

North Korea's launching of a rocket into space last week amounted to the test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a half-ton payload over 10,000km, the South Korean defence ministry says.
"Based on our analysis and simulation, the missile is capable of flying more than 10,000km with a warhead of 500-600kg," a defence ministry official told reporters on Sunday.
North Korea launched its three-stage Unha-3 rocket on December 12, insisting it was a purely scientific mission aimed at putting a polar-orbiting satellite in space, but critics say it was aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

South Korea's estimate of the rocket's range was based on analysis of an oxidizer container, which stored nitric acid to fuel the vehicle's first-stage propellant. The container was recovered from the rocket's first-stage splashdown site.
Without any debris from the second and third stages to analyse, the official said it could not be determined if the rocket had re-entry capability - a key element of inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology.
Several countries and international bodies, including the UN Security Council, condemned the North's rocket launch as a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions imposed on the country after it conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
The North says that the launch was meant to transport a satellite into space. Observers, including the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) confirmed that an "object" had been launched into space by the rocket.
North defiant
The success of the launch was seen as a major strategic step forward for the isolated North, although missile experts differed on the level of ballistic capability demonstrated by the rocket.
The debris collected by the South Koreans was made of an alloy of aluminium and magnesium with eight panels welded manually.
"Welding was crude, done manually," the ministry official said, adding that oxidiser containers for storing toxic chemicals are rarely used by countries with advanced space technology.
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, meanwhile, has called for the development of more powerful rockets in the wake of last week's launch.
The North's official media said on Saturday that Kim made the call at a banquet for rocket scientists in Pyongyang on Friday.
Kim had already called for sending more scientific satellites into space on the day of the launch. But his speech on Friday marks the first time he was seen explicitly calling for the advancement of his country's long-range rocket program.
 .aljazeera.com
 23/12/12
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related post:

Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 22, 2012

Βόρεια Κορέα: Ανάπτυξη προγράμματος περισσότερων πυραύλων για ειρηνικούς σκοπούς

ηγέτης της Βόρειας Κορέας Κιμ Γιονγκ-ουν έκανε έκκληση για περαιτέρω ανάπτυξη της διαστημικής τεχνολογίας και την έναρξη προγράμματος εκτόξευσης περισσότερων δορυφόρων μετά την επιτυχή εκτόξευση, μεταδίδει το πρακτορείο Kyodo. 

"Θα πρέπει να αναπτυχθεί και να ξεκινήσει μια ποικιλία από περισσότερους ειρηνικούς δορυφόρους , συμπεριλαμβανομένων των δορυφορικών τηλεπικοινωνιών και ρουκέτες με μεγαλύτερη ικανότητα φορτίου," συνεχίζει τος Κεντρικό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων της Κορέας μεταφέροντας τις δηλώσεις του Κιμ Γιονκ-ουν.



Στις 12 Δεκεμβρίου, η Βόρεια Κορέα εκτόξευσε 3-όροφο (από 3 κομμάτια) δορυφόρο σε τροχιά, προκαλώντας την  κριτική από τη διεθνή κοινότητα που ζητούσε αυστηρότερες κυρώσεις από τα Ηνωμένα Έθνη.

Η Βόρεια Κορέα ισχυρίζεται ότι ο νέος πύραυλος της προοριζόταν για την μεταφορά και εγκατάσταση ενός δορυφόρου στο διάστημα για ειρηνικούς σκοπούς, αλλά η διεθνής κοινότητα καταδίκασε ευρέως την πράξη αυτή  καθώς πιστεύει ότι απώτερος στόχος είναι η ανάπτυξη και δοκιμή ενός διηπειρωτικού βαλλιστικού πυραύλου  (ICBM) που θα φέρει πυρηνικές κεφαλές.
22/12/12
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  • N.Korea to Launch More Rockets - Kim Jong-un

ΜOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for further development of space technology and the launching of more rockets following the successful launch of one earlier this month, Kyodo reported on Saturday.

"You should develop and launch a variety of more working satellites including communications satellite and carrier rockets of bigger capacity," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as telling scientists and other people involved in the rocket launch.
On December 12, a North Korean three-stage rocket sent a Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into orbit, drawing criticism from the international community and calls for stronger sanctions by the United Nations.
North Korea claims its new rocket was intended for putting a satellite into space for peaceful purposes, but the international community has widely condemned what it believes to be the development and testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) intended to carry nuclear warheads......rian.ru 22/12/12
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