Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, October 2013
Syrian Opposition Leaders Refuse to Meet with Assad's Representatives in Geneva,
Opposition Fighters' Attack on Gas Pipeline Sparks Syria Blackout
October 24, 2013
Hopes for Syria peace meet fade as rebels dig in heels
Arab News, October 24, 2013
Prospects for a Syria peace conference in Geneva next month looked dim Wednesday after key opposition leaders spurned efforts by Western and Arab powers to persuade them to attend.
A meeting in London between the opposition leaders and 11 key countries of the so-called Friends of Syria on Tuesday produced little more than an accord that Syrian President Bashar Assad should play no future role in government.
But leaders of the National Coalition — the main opposition umbrella group — insisted they would not take part in a conference in late November if any regime members were there, sticking to their demand that Assad’s departure was essential.
A defiant Assad has shown no sign of backing down after a two-and-a-half-year civil war that has left more than 115,000 people dead, saying he was ready to run for re-election in 2014.
Assad has systematically refused to
recognize the Coalition as a legitimate negotiating partner and rejected
its demands for him to step down.
He said the Friends of Syria agreed that they would put their “united and collective weight” behind efforts to form a transitional government and that “Assad would play no role in that future government of Syria.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry took a similar position, saying Assad had “lost all legitimacy.”
But he too urged the opposition to go to Geneva, saying Syria was at risk of “implosion” if the war continued and that the only alternative to a negotiated settlement was “continued if not increased killing.”
The opposition is due to meet at the start of November to finalize its position on the Geneva talks, which would be a follow-up to a conference held there in June 2012.
But coalition head Ahmad Jarba appeared to be in no mood to compromise. “The only thing we are willing to negotiate is a transfer of all power and then the departure of the mass killer (Assad),” he said.
“If what is asked is a way out that leads to the fall of the criminal Assad and the handover of power and for the war criminals on all sides to be put on trial, we welcome Geneva 2.”
And he said the talks could only succeed if humanitarian corridors are opened to two Damascus suburbs and the Old City of Homs under siege by the army, and if women and children in detention be freed.
“We cannot sit at the negotiating table
while, in some areas, children are dying of hunger and women are being
tortured in jails.”
Washington and Moscow have been trying to organize the Geneva conference on the heels of the deal they reached for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons after a deadly poison gas attack in August widely blamed on Damascus.
But Assad dealt an early blow to peace
hopes, saying in an interview Monday that the factors are not in place
for the conference to succeed.
UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet again on November 5 with US and Russian officials to prepare for the Geneva talks, the UN announced Tuesday.
That meeting will be followed by one with the other three permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China and France, according to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
In other developments, prominent human rights activist Sema Nassar told AFP Wednesday that Syrian authorities have released 14 women detainees as part of a weekend hostage exchange but that dozens of others are still being held.
Nine Lebanese Shiite hostages held by a rebel group in northern Syria were exchanged on Saturday for two Turkish pilots abducted in retaliation.
And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting in Quneitra province, near the Israeli border, had killed and wounded 20 loyalists, while militants said there was fighting in various parts of the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyet Al-Sham.
Attack on gas pipeline sparks Syria blackout
By FRANCE 24 (text), October 24, 2013
Syria was hit by a power cut late on Wednesday shortly after an explosion near the international airport outside Damascus.
"A terrorist attack on a gas pipeline that feeds a power station in the south has led to a power outage in the provinces, and work to repair it is in progress," Electricity Minister Emad Khamis was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.
“The whole city just went dark,” a resident who lives in the centre of Damascus told Reuters. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she could see the “major glow of a fire” near the airport and hear the sound of heavy machinegun fire.
An AFP journalist in Damascus also said he could see a huge fire blazing near the airport, which is located near the affected pipeline.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based group that reports on abuses and battlefield developments using sources from both sides of Syria’s civil war, confirmed the electricity minister’s claims that the explosion was caused by rebel artillery.
"It is likely this was a large-scale operation planned well in advance," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Power cuts were reported in several areas of the country, the SOHR said, including in the restive towns of Aleppo in the north and Homs in the centre.
Rebels have been trying to push into the capital, which remains a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.
In September, a similar outage was triggered when a high-voltage power line was sabotaged.
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for
in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
Section 107, the material on this site is
distributed without profit to those
who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of
your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org.
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com