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Syria Today – Aid Crosses into Northwest; U.S. Condemns Assad; Refugees Return from Turkey

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Aid Crosses into Northwest; U.S. Condemns Assad; Refugees Return from Turkey

38 UN trucks crossed into the northwest. This brings the total number of UN trucks that have crossed into northwest Syria since February 9th to 423 trucks. This is an average of 23 trucks per day, which is slightly above pre-earthquake levels.

OCHA says, “Our top priorities remain to scale up the humanitarian response in the areas of shelter, winterization, and cash support.”

On Monday, a UN inter-agency team from Qamishli City, in northeast Syria, delivered a truck carrying emergency supplies during a cross-line mission to Ras Al-Ain town in Al-Hasakeh Governorate. The truck contained supplies from UNICEF, including chlorination tables and hygiene and midwives’ kits. During the mission, the UN team assessed a medical centre. This is the second crossline mission to Ras Al-Ain district after the first one undertaken by UNICEF and WHO on October 27th 2022.

According to an UN-backed assessment, overcrowding is the most common issue in collective shelters for people displaced by earthquakes. Several families are staying in the same space without privacy and safety. Lack of gender segregation in shelters and bathrooms was also frequently observed.

U.S. House condemns Assad

The House on Monday approved a resolution that mourns the loss of life in a series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and strongly condemns the Assad regime for what it says are efforts to “cynically exploit the disaster to evade international pressure and accountability.”

The measure was approved in a bipartisan 412-2 vote. Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) were the only “no” votes.

The resolution specifically condemns Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of exploiting the disaster to move back onto the global stage after years as an international pariah and to acquire international aid despite his abuses during the country’s ongoing civil war.

“American families’ prayers and sincere condolences go to the people of Turkey and Syria. To the brutal Assad regime and its backers — war criminal Putin, the authoritarian ayatollah in Iran — there will be a message: your diversion of humanitarian aid during an earthquake is despicable,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the sponsor of the resolution, said on the House floor during the debate Monday.

The resolution says the Assad regime prevented the United Nations from providing assistance through border crossings that lay between Turkey and Syria. Last week the U.N. said three border crossings had been operational to deliver aid, but the resolution “Calls on the Biden administration to continue to use all diplomatic tools, including through the United Nations Security Council, to open all Turkey-Syria border crossings for United Nations assistance.”

Thousands of refugees return

Around 40,000 Syrians who took shelter in Turkey amid the civil war in their country have returned home since the Feb. 6 earthquakes, Turkish and Syrian officials told The Daily Sabah.

Turkey eased restrictions on the movements of Syrian refugees following what it called the “disaster of the century.”

The immigration was recorded at four border crossings held by the Syrian opposition, Mazen Alloush, a media officer at the opposition-held Bab Al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, told Reuters.

As of Monday, some 13,500 had crossed through Bab al-Hawa, nearly 10,000 through Jarablus crossing and around 7,000 each through the Bab al-Salam and Tal Abiad crossings, according to a table of statistics Alloush provided.

A Turkish Defense Ministry official confirmed that the number of Syrians who had returned to their country reached 40,000 as of Monday. More Syrians were returning, and the number was increasing daily, the official added.

Syria suffers from economic stagnation, soaring inflation after quakes

Prices in Syria have risen since the February 6th earthquake – as much as 40 percent, say some estimates.

The price hike was accompanied by a rise in inflation rates, despite the friendlier international outlook towards Syria after the earthquake, including the partial and temporary lifting of sanctions by the U.S. and tons of humanitarian aid, both financial and in-kind.

Faulty economic policy

Sami Hassan (name changed), an economist, explained that those who guide the current economic policy are inefficient and care little for the consequences of their policies on the local economy.

Hassan told North Press that businessmen participate in managing the state’s resources. Their role goes way beyond advisory, which he deems “illogical.”

Hassan accused the Central Bank of feeding the inflation rates through its arbitrary and unstudied exchange rate increases.

He expects inflation to keep rising due to the lack of a balanced monetary policy or clear economic policy.

“Tadamon neighbourhood from its establishment to massacre: rights report monitors violations

The Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria issued an investigative report that monitors the most prominent events and violations in the Al-Tadamon neighbourhood in southern Damascus and the conditions of the Palestinian refugees from the neighbourhood.

The 93-page AGPS report, titled “The Damascene Al-Tadamon Neighborhood from Establishment to the Massacre”, reviews the conditions of the Palestinian refugees in the Al-Tadamon neighbourhood during the period from March 2011 until the end of 2022.

Beginning with the first demonstration that took place against the Syrian authorities, leading to the displacement of northern Syria, the entire neighbourhood’s return to the control of the Syrian regime in 2018, and the subsequent return of some displaced families to the neighbourhood.

The report also monitors the most prominent security and military events during that period. It presents a set of statistics concerning the victims, detainees, and missing Palestinians from the Al-Tadamon neighbourhood and Yarmouk camp who were subjected to kidnapping and enforced disappearance in this neighbourhood.

On the Government side

Special Adviser at the Presidency of the Republic, Buthaina Shaaban, affirmed that the West is involved not only in the proxy war in Ukraine but also in the creation of regional blocs.

The world can no longer exist within the framework of a unipolar scheme controlled by the West, ” Dr. Shaaban said during Tuesday’s 12th Middle Eastern Conference of the “Valdai” International Discussion Club in Moscow.

A new world scheme has emerged based on certain rules, but some countries do not know what these rules are and how they can be adhered to, and these rules are imposed by the U.S. and the West in general, Shaaban added.

She pointed out that the West chooses and supports the members affiliated with it, and these members are the ones that carry out the task of implementation. They use terrorism to change the existing world order and make countries follow their fancies.

She added that after the war in Vietnam, several studies appeared to say, “we no longer need to send armies to those countries. We can designate agents there to do what we want”. And this is what we see now in the war on Iraq and Syria and what they are doing against Iran.

Mekdad speaks to Conference on Disarmament in Geneva

Meanwhile, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal al-Mekdad spoke via video at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

“Syria has faced an unjust war, during which well-known countries employed the weapon of terrorism against the Syrian people, recruited tens of thousands of foreign terrorists and provided them with various kinds of support and weapons, including internationally prohibited ones, to serve their hostile agendas,” Mekdad added.

He noted that the policies of those countries had allowed terrorist organizations such as Daesh “ISIS” and “Jabhat al-Nusra” to possess chemical weapons and use them repeatedly against the Syrians, which highlights the need to address the shortcomings in international instruments and joint action away from politicization and misinformation to find a mechanism to coordinate international efforts to confront acts of chemical terrorism.

Mekdad added that Syria’s experience with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that those in charge of managing this organization fell into the trap of polarization and political dependence and their submission to the policies and dictations of Western countries.

Mekdad stressed that the only way to overcome the deteriorating situation in the international security environment is the commitment of Member States in word and deed to international law and the UN Charter and the implementation of their obligations in the field of arms control, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, away from double standards and narrow political agendas.

‘He strangled me. I saw black’: the Syrian woman who fled war to find violence at home

The warning signs were there from the beginning. Rima was 18 and studying at a Syrian university when her family arranged for her to marry a man several years older than she was.

“From the moment we were married, he controlled me,” she tells The Guardian. “I agreed to marry him because I wanted to escape my father’s violence. My brother told me later: you ran from your father’s violence to even worse violence. If I had been more mature, I would have waited a bit before getting married. But I was 18.” She sits cross-legged on the floor of a cold house, cradling one of her young sons, half laughing, half crying.

Not long into her marriage, Syria was plunged into civil war, and Rima and her family, like hundreds of thousands of others, fled to neighbouring Lebanon. Not long after they arrived, the problems in their relationship intensified and continued for years, reaching a peak last year when Rima’s husband nearly killed her in a brutal assault in front of their children.

“He attacked me. He tried to strangle me. I saw black,” she recalls. “He was beating me on the back, on the shoulders. He strangled me to the point there was blood on my neck, and I felt I was going to die.”

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