What Happened Over the Weekend

Continued airstrikes in northwestern Syria, Turkey criticizes Russian inaction, Turkish council bans refugees from beach and Syrian journalists call for an end to sanctions. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.

1. On Saturday, at least 35 combatants including 26 from pro-regime forces were killed in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by militants and allied opposition fighters earlier this month, according to the monitor. Local sources said that Russian airstrikes targeted refugee camps in southern Aleppo province and residential areas in Hama with rockets and cluster bombs. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, added that on top of civilian casualties, the airstrikes have set fire to civilian crops and damaged homes.

2. Turkey said Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it was unable to stop the Syrian government’s continued bombardments. “In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Anadolu news agency. “Thus we do not accept the excuse that they cannot make the regime listen to them’” he said. His comments came after Moscow this week said a new ceasefire had been secured in the province following weeks of government bombardments – a claim that was denied by Ankara.

3. Kim Leadbeater, the sister of deceased British MP Jo Cox has called on leading British politicians to continue the murdered politician’s legacy and act on Syria, where a million children are trapped in Idleb province amid a hail of bombing. Cox was a British Labour MP who tirelessly campaigned for the UK to stop the war in Syria, before she was murdered by a far-right gunman on Jun. 16, 2016. A letter from Cox’s sister, quoted by Al-Araby al-Jadeed, called on British politicians to take a break from the debate around Brexit and focus their attention on helping Syrians. “Three years ago, when civilians in Aleppo were facing unrelenting aerial attacks, the late Jo Cox MP championed their protection in parliament: “It is not ethical to wish away the barrel bombs from the Syrian government when you have the capacity to stop them,” the letter read.

4. The municipality council in the Gazipaşa district of Antalya in southern Turkey voted in favor of a controversial ban barring Syrians from public beaches, the Turkish Daily Sabah reported. The motion was brought to the floor by CHP Councilman Ulaş Özgen, an item not on the council’s agenda set for Monday, claiming that locals were disturbed by Syrians on the beaches, saying “we are refugees in our own homeland,” while the motion itself cited locals and other tourists being photographed by Syrian refugees at beaches and sparking fights. It also called for the municipality to establish reserved areas for Syrian refugees. The proposal sparked discussions with Mayor Mehmet Ali Yılmaz, also from the CHP, demanding that the motion be discussed by a sub-committee first. Ten councilors, including Yılmaz, voted to send the motion to the committee. However, the motion was brought to discussion when 13 councilors voted in favor.

5. Turkish President Recep Tayyip stated that his armed forces will retaliate if the Syrian regime army continues its attacks on Turkish observation posts in Idleb. Erdogan was quoted by Al-Masdar online news service, as saying, “Turkey will not remain silent if the Syrian regime continues to attack observation points in Idleb”. In regards to the situation in Manbij, Erdogan claimed the US did not fulfill its promises to expel the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the town; however, he said they will continue with his nation’s plans there. “Our partner, the US, did not keep its promise on Manbij. However, it doesn’t mean that we give up on the Manbij issue, we keep all our plans and we will continue to do.”

6. The International Federation of Journalists unanimously adopted a draft resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions imposed on media in Syria. The conference, according to SANA, that concluded its 30th session in Tunis on Friday, condemned those sanctions as a violation of the freedom and independence of mass media, calling for them to be lifted and expressing solidarity with the Syrian journalists. Mousa Abd al-Nour, the head of Syrian Journalists Union, talked about the humanitarian conditions that the Syrian people suffer from because of terrorism and the unilateral measures imposed by the US and EU on Syria, contrary to international laws and conventions.

 

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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