Archive for Syria
Russia, the main military backer of the Syrian government, has summoned Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren for questioning over recent Israeli airstrikes on Syrian state forces, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. Russia demands Israel more closely communicate its military plans in the region to avoid such incidents, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in comments carried by state news agency RIA Novosti. Israeli warplanes conducted air raids in Syria on Friday, with Syrian state forces retaliating using anti-aircraft weapons, in one of the more serious exchanges of fire in the six years of Syria’s multi-sided civil war. Russia has maintained close relations with Israel despite the decades-long animosity between Syria and the neighbouring Jewish state, including over Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel has about a million Russian-speaking residents. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in Moscow for talks that focused on the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu warned Putin about Iranian involvement in the conflict. Like Syria’s regime, Iran is also a regional rival of Israel but an ally of Russia.
One of the buildings that belong to the Russian Embassy in Damascus was damaged as a result of a Sunday shelling by militants, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak said. “We have a building, which we temporarily do not use and it is located close to the epicenter of the yesterday’s armed clashes. As they told me, the blast wave had broken the window glass there. However, nobody is currently living there except for a local keeper,” Kinshchak told reporters. According to Kinshchak, this building was previously used and it was planned to station the consular office there, however, this building is located close to the district controlled by illegal armed groups. “We were forced to temporarily abandon the idea of using this building… all the employees moved to the main building of the embassy,” the ambassador added.
Armed groups shelled on Friday the district of al-Mazraa in Damascus, where the Russian embassy is located. One rocket landed in the district, exploding some 160 yards away from the embassy. The civil war in Syria has been lasting for around six years with government troops fighting against numerous opposition factions and terror organizations such as al-Nusra Front and Daesh. The nationwide Syrian ceasefire regime was introduced on December 30, 2016. Terrorist organizations are not part of the ceasefire. Moscow has been conducting a campaign in Syria since September 30, 2015, at President Bashar Assad’s request.
The actual danger that Russia’s embassy in Damascus may come under attack is not decreasing even amid the ceasefire deal between the Syrian government and the opposition, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak said in an interview with TASS. “The establishment of ceasefire on December 30, 2016 had a positive impact on the military and political situation in Syria in general,” he said. “Unfortunately, this does not mean that the security situation of the embassy has automatically improved.” Russia’s embassy in Damascus again came under shelling on February 3, the ambassador said, adding that there was no serious damage to it. “We constantly register shellings in close vicinity to the embassy,” he added.
The Russian Embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus was shelled on February 2-3 but no one was hurt, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. It said one of the shells hit the space between an office and residential housing, while another exploded 20 meters away from the entrance. “No one was hurt, but there has been some material damage,” the ministry said, contending that the attack was aimed at derailing the cease-fire and peace process Russia has been pursuing in Syria.
When the Syrian Mission to the United Nations convened a press conference featuring observers of the recent Syrian elections. Five minutes into the press conference, the webcast of the conference was abruptly cut off. Later that evening, while speaking at the UN church nearby, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari commented on what occurred. This is not the first time the official UN webcast has been shut down while Jaafari was speaking. This occurred on June 7th, and numerous times throughout 2013. Inner City Press reported when June 7th the webcast was cut off, this was in compliance with a direct order from Michele DuBach, the Acting Deputy Director-News & Media Operations. The International Action Center, which participated in the press conference, has sent a message of protest to UN officials.
U.S. ally Jordan said it was expelling Syria’s ambassador for accusing the kingdom of backing Syrian rebels, prompting Damascus to retaliate by barring Jordan’s top diplomat. A Jordanian foreign ministry statement gave Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman, a former general and intelligence chief, 24 hours to leave. It said he had violated diplomatic protocol by posting repeated comments on social media that criticized Jordan and its Gulf allies. “Mr Suleiman used the territory of the kingdom as a platform to level unfounded accusations in more than one statement and post…this was despite repeated warnings for a long while,” the statement on state news agency Petra said. In a tit-for-tat move, neighboring Syria declared Jordan’s charge d’affaires in Damascus persona non grata in response for what it said was an unjustified move to expel its ambassador, Syrian state television said. Jordanian officials said the charge d’affaires was not currently in Syria. Jordan has avoided publicly supporting Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, calling instead for a political solution to a war that has cost over 100,000 lives. The Western-backed kingdom has harbored more than one million refugees from neighboring Syria’s civil war. Suleiman has accused Jordan in his posts of hosting Islamist radicals sent to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and of providing a haven for hundreds of Syrian army defectors training them with Saudi help to go back and join rebels. “These insults against Jordan and its Arab allies are a flagrant breach of diplomatic norms and treaties,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah al Rafia told state media. Suleiman allowed his followers on Facebook to leave comments strongly critical of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which back the Syrian opposition, mocking their ruling families and ridiculing Jordanian officials who attacked Assad.