Archive for Syria
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.
Militants fired mortar shells at the district of Damascus, Syria where the Russian embassy is located, RIA Novosti reports. “According to the information we have available now, there were no casualties among the embassy staff,” the publicity officer told RIA Novosti over the phone. Russian Foreign Ministry reported that the embassy building itself and the fence surrounding the complex sustained no damage during the shelling. One of the local eyewitnesses told RIA Novosti over the phone that five shells landed in Mazraa district, and “one of them exploded only a few dozen meters away from the fence surrounding the Russian embassy.” Syrian state media agency SANA reports that at least one person was killed and four were wounded when a mortar shell detonated near the Al-Iman mosque in the Mazraa district.
Syria’s Opposition Coalition’s US office has been recognized as a Foreign Mission, with Washington granting it “enhanced status” and “certain facilities and responsibilities” in the country, but not diplomatic immunity, a senior State Department official announced. The new status does not mean the SOC is being recognized as the official government of Syria. “It is a reflection of our partnership with the SOC as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” said the official, who spoke on background. “And we do believe and, I think, more importantly they believe that it will facilitate their outreach to the Syrian diaspora and the broader American public in the United States.” The SOC was initially recognized as the “legitimate representative” of Syrians in December 2012.
Russia’s embassy in Syria is taking part in efforts to regulate the situation in the Western Syrian city of Homs, where fierce fighting between the government army and opposition militants resumed in recent days, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said. “We are concerned about the situation in Homs, like in many other Syrian regions. I have spoken to our embassy in Damascus – they are participating in efforts to settle the situation in Homs. As far as I understand, discussions they take part in embrace more than just the situation in Homs,” Churkin told journalists on Thursday prior to a UN Security Council meeting, the Voice of Russia reported. During the meeting convened by France, the UN Security Council members are slated to hear a report on the situation in Homs by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.