UN ceasefire applies to all Syria, ‘including Afrin,’ Macron tells Erdogan

ERDOGAN MACRONFrench President Emmanuel Macron told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday that the latest UN ceasefire vote applied to all Syrian territory, including the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin, where Turkey is waging an offensive.

During a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron said the 30-day ceasefire “involved all Syrian territory, including in Afrin, and must be put into effect everywhere and by everyone without delay,” said a statement released by the French presidency.

Macron’s call followed the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution Saturday calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria “without delay”, to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

On Sunday the Turkish government said the UN ceasefire would not affect its operation in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which Ankara claims is aimed at fighting “terrorist organisations that threaten the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria”.

 Turkey launched a military operation on January 20 against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin in northern Syria.

Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which for more than three decades has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state and is banned by Turkey, the US and the European Union as a terror group.

But the offensive has raised tensions with the US, which works closely with the YPG in the fight against jihadists in Syria.

‘Clearing terrorists’

According to sources in the Turkish president’s office, Erdogan told Macron that measures were being taken to avoid civilian casualties in Afrin.

Erdogan also reiterated that the offensive was aimed at “clearing terrorists” from the area so that Syrian refugees could return to their country.

On Monday, the Turkish government said it had deployed special forces in Afrin in anticipation of a “new fight” against the YPG.

‘Deeply worried’ about Eastern Ghouta

Macron also told Erdogan he was “deeply worried” about the bombardments of Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, saying France would remain “vigilant” concerning humanitarian access to the area and any use of chemical weapons.

The French leader’s phone call came hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “humanitarian pause” in Eastern Ghouta starting Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory said one child died and at least 13 other people suffered breathing difficulties in an Eastern Ghouta village after a suspected chemical attack on Sunday.

Earlier this month Macron warned that France would carry out strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad if proof emerges that it has used banned chemical weapons against civilians.

More than 500 people have been reported killed in the bombing campaign by Assad’s forces over the course of a week.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

  • Niemals

    Isn’t the invasion of the Turkish military in Syria threatening the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria?

    Putin orders “humanitarian break” in Syria…
    Russian Defense Minister Sergey Sjojgu says President Vladimir Putin has ordered orders for daily ceasefire in the rebel-beloved Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, will Erdogan do the same?

    According to UN Human Rights Director Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, parts of Syria, together with areas in countries such as Burma and Yemen, are huge “slaughterhouses”, and the war free world dose nothing about it.

  • Niemals

    ‘Deeply worried’ about Eastern Ghouta. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95d3d1678a503c250db448d7f4f2353c3c3640db7b4fd2e7d7a9bc28d122ece6.jpg
    Macron also told Erdogan he was “deeply worried” about the bombardments of Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, saying France would remain “vigilant” concerning humanitarian access to the area and any use of chemical weapons.
    https://twitter.com/MOHAMEDHAREDY39/status/967130018253074434
    According to a sources in the Turkish president’s office, Erdoğan told Macron that measures were being taken to avoid civilian casualties in Afrin. Can anybody believe it?

    Erdogan also reiterated that the offensive was aimed at “clearing terrorists” from the area so that Syrian refugees could return to their country.

    The Afrin offensive:
    Eight Turkish soldiers have been killed in fighting in the north Syrian region of Afrin, the military says.
    Another 13 were injured in the clashes on Thursday, with several said to be in a critical condition.

    It is one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began a major offensive against Kurdish fighters in Afrin in January.

    More than 580 people have reportedly been killed in the rebel-held enclave near Damascus since the government and its allies intensified a bombardment on 18 February.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f4ad10dbc9113de34f445de768f6dfd43275b06012e4867db5b9a48b82f56d5.jpg About 393,000 civilians trapped there also face severe shortages of food and medical supplies.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9a2e5e283b2180d9124e1bf739fc6efe6c7dd008046088bf5b7680e80d2cdbd7.png
    Turkey’s military announced its latest casualties in two statements on Thursday.

    Five “heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded”, the first statement said. A second statement announced three more soldiers had been killed and six more wounded.

    No official details of the clashes were given but the private Dogan news agency says Kurdish fighters used tunnels to ambush Turkish special forces in the Keltepe district.

    A Turkish helicopter sent in to rescue the wounded was hit and had to turn back, the report adds.

  • Niemals

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein warned Syria that potential war crimes were being comitted in Eastern Ghouta, speaking at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday,
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe4e072961d9feb1c7838ad851f244611795f5844cfe4e4d2a0d8eafa2772ead.png
    “What we are seeing in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria are likely war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity,” he said. “Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court. Attempts to thwart justice and shield these criminals are disgraceful.”

    Syrian government forces, with the backing of Russia, have been conducting airstrikes on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta for the past 12 days. Those attacks have killed hundreds of civilians in the city of 400,000. Eastern Ghouta is the last rebel-held enclave near the Syrian capital. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f1878abcfd07a04d6a44c8c93d471dfd2d76a5a8946df8f8e40c84509b6e3fab.png

    Speaking with DW TV, special advisor to the UN special envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, said, “We need longer pauses.” He added that the five-hour pauses also had to be respected by rebels within the city.

    Criticizing the fact that Russian-backed government forces were simply conducting airstrikes in areas outside Eastern Ghouta for short periods and then resuming them within as soon as the five hours had passed, Egeland said that if the pauses were not lengthened, “we cannot deliver aid in, we cannot take medical evacuations out and we cannot really ensure that civilians are safe if they want to leave the area.”  

    More than 650 people have been killed since government forces began bombing Eastern Ghouta on February 18. At least 103 have been killed since Russia declared its humanitarian pauses. Eastern Ghouta has been under siege from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for the last four years.

    Syria’s civil war, which has been raging since 2011, has become increasing entangled with a number of parties involved on many sides. More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced since hostilities began and there are no indications that the fighting will stop any time soon. 

    js/aw (AP,dpa, Reuters)

  • Niemals

    Which rebel groups are fighting in Syria’s eastern Ghouta?
    DW takes a look at these various groups and who supports them.

    1. Jaysh al-Islam: The Jaysh al-Islam, or Army of Islam, coalition is centered in the Damascus area and eastern Ghouta. It aims to replace the Assad government with a Syria based on Sharia, or Islamic law. 

    2. Faylaq al-Rahman: The Faylaq al-Rahman organization, or al-Rahman Legion, is also based in eastern Ghouta and is allied with Qatar. It is also connected to the Free Syrian Army, one of the biggest rebel coalitions formed at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. 

    3. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham: The Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham organization, or Organization for the Liberation of the Levant, is also known as the covert Syrian version of al Qaeda.

    4. Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki movement: The Harakat al-Din al-Zenki, or the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, is a Sunni Islamist group based in Aleppo. In June 2016, a video of the group circulated showing its members beheading a 15-year-old boy.

    5. Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya: The Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya, or Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant, aims to also form an Islamic state in Syria based on Sharia.

  • Niemals

    What is the point of the latest UN ceasefire applied to all Syrian territory, when “Syrian Army pounds Turkish forces in response to latest deadly airstrike” [Al-Masdar Al-‘Arabi], and Hindler is reporting it…. https://twitter.com/AbyadHind/status/973933622485975040

    What is the meaning with the ceasefire that is applied to all Syrian territories, while everyone is still fighting everyone.

    Reading about “State Dept alarmed as Syrian Democratic Forces ISIS battle to focus on Afrin”, and comments to this article make one more puzzled.
    “Maybe Erdogan can send some of his FSA mercenaries to bolster up his US allies’ lines in the Deir ez-Zor province. Erdogan is after the Syrian oil just as his US allies are. That way Erdogan could join the US in their oil heist. And he does not have to wait and see whether his IS ex oil-trade partners can occupy the Syria oil fields after most SDF guards of the US have gone to the Turkish border to fight the Sultan’s war of aggression. LOL.”

    What is the point of Hindler in pointing out this complicated arena in the civil war in Syria that is nothing else than everyone is fighting everyone and everyone is blame the other one (“Erdogan is after the Syrian oil just as his US allies are”), for what purpose. https://twitter.com/AbyadHind/status/973740236558741504