Syria’s ambassador to the OPCW, Milad Attia, has expressed his country’s rage over the new report that blames Damascus for the use of chemical weapons in Douma in 2018, while pro-regime media has hailed the new effort to include Iran in the rapprochement meetings between Turkey and Syria that Russia is sponsoring. On the ground, 11 Syrian regime soldiers were killed by HTS in the Idleb province.
Syria is enraged with OPCW
Syria has expressed its rage over a new OPCW report that blames Damascus for using chemical weapons in Damascus countryside in 2018.
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Ambassador Milad Attia, said that Syria does not recognize the team, nor the reports previously issued by it, nor those that will be issued later, because it was established based on the pressure exerted by the United States, France and Britain for their own purposes, in clear and explicit violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
“Syria does not recognize the OPCW…because it was established based on the pressure exerted by the United States, France and Britain for special purposes in clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Attia said.
“Syria calls on the technical secretariat of the OPCW to stop its bias towards Western positions and not to issue replica reports of those prepared for it by Western countries and “Israel” against Syria,” Ambassador Attia added during a press conference held Thursday at the building of the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry.
“We followed the issuance of the third report of the so-called (Investigation and Identification Team) at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which accuses Syria of using chemicals in the alleged Douma incident on April 7, 2018” Attia elaborated.
He reminded that Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 2013, and, based on a voluntary and strategic decision, destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical weapons in a record time of “six months” despite the difficult circumstances it was going through. The United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed this matter.
Attia renewed Syria’s demand for the OPCW technical secretariat to stop its bias towards Western positions and not to issue misleading reports and replicas of those prepared for it by Western countries and “Israel” against Syria to preserve the organization’s credibility, professionalism, impartiality, and future, and the need to preserve its technical nature and prevent cases of politicization and polarization.
The official news agency SANA quoted whom it called “witnesses from Douma city, in Damascus countryside” as saying that “the alleged chemical incident in the city on April 7, 2018 was a fabricated play by terrorist organizations and their supporters to justify the attacks on Syria, noting that no deaths were recorded with these materials, and the cases that were photographed and published online do not prove the use of any chemicals.”
During a press conference held on Thursday at the building of the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry, Dr. Hassan Eyon, an ambulance doctor at Douma Hospital said that information was published a day before the alleged incident that it was necessary to prepare for an event that will take place, which confirms the prior preparations for the fabricated play that had been filmed.
Damascus media hails new efforts to improve relationship with Ankara
Damascus is rejoicing that Iran is joining Russia and Turkey in the process of reconciling Syria and Turkey.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Iranian Foreign Minister’s senior advisor for political affairs Ali Asghar Khaji exchanged viewpoints on a bunch of international issues, emphasizing the political settlement in Syria during a Wednesday meeting,” according to SANA.
Both sides affirmed the principled position of Moscow and Tehran on the need to unconditionally respect Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
They also stressed the importance of close cooperation within the Astana Format framework and the need to provide more international assistance for reconstruction.
Gradual work: Erdogan
Turkey and Syria are carrying out gradual steps, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday as relations between the two longtime foes are thawing.
Touching on the latest development on ongoing operations as a part of Turkey’s fight against terrorism, Erdoğan said during a televised interview in Ankara his country’s fight against terrorism also contributes to the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity and unity. “Therefore, (Syria’s Bashar Assad) regime should be aware of this.”
Speaking about the process of establishing a dialogue between Turkey and Syria, Erdoğan said, “A gradual work is being carried out in the dialogue with the Syrian regime.”
“The attitudes of the parties will determine how the dialogue process between Turkey and Syria will be shaped. In any case, we take the necessary measures to protect our national security,” he added.
“Finding a solution to the conflict by advancing the political process may constitute a window of opportunity,” he said.
The return of Syrians should be “voluntarily, safely and in a dignified manner,” he said, adding that currently, approximately 500,000 refugees have started to voluntarily return to Syria.
Although no date or location has yet been announced, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Syria are expected to meet, which would mark another high level of talks since the Syrian civil war began in early 2011.
Turkey is also happy
Ankara seems to be happy as well with adding Tehran to the reconciliation process.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that his country welcomed Iran’s participation in the ongoing talks with Syria under Russian mediation.
He added that Tehran’s presence in the talks would facilitate the elimination of terrorist threats from Syrian territory, secure his country’s borders, and guarantee the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
Kalin’s remarks, which he made in Ankara on Wednesday, came hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that Moscow supported Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s interest in settling and normalizing the situation between the two neighbors, Turkey and Syria.
“It is logical that the upcoming contacts be dedicated to the normalization of Turkish-Syrian relations, with the mediation of Russia and Iran (the two guarantors with Turkey of the Astana process),” he said.
Jihadis Kill 11 Soldiers in Northwest Syria, Monitor Says
On Wednesday, a war monitor reported eleven Syrian soldiers were killed in the northwest part of the country during separate attacks carried out by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist group — known as HTS.
“HTS fired shells and rockets at a Syrian military post, killing eight soldiers near Kafr Ruma in Idlwb province,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The monitor later reported that “three Syrian soldiers were killed by sniper fire” near Kafr Nabl in the same province, adding that HTS jihadists also were responsible.
Syrian state media did not immediately report either attack.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France-Presse that since the end of 2022, the jihadists “have intensified operations against regime forces in Idlib … in the context of a rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.”
He said exchanges of fire and clashes between regime forces and jihadist factions had killed more than 60 people since the start of the year, most of them pro-regime forces. One of the jihadists killed was a French national.
Iranian Militias Arrest 11 Syrian Loyalists
Number 11 has a secret today. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Lebanese Hezbollah arrested 11 Iran-backed Syrian fighters in al-Bokamal and al-Mayadin, under the control of the regime forces and Iranian militias.
SOHR quoted sources as saying that the arrests were due to their interrogation following charges of communicating with the international coalition and Israel.
The Observatory claimed that Iranian militias and Hezbollah lost confidence in their Syrian loyalists and suspected they provided the coalition with information about movements and locations.
It indicated that a delegation of top commanders and investigation units, headed by the security officer of the Iranian militias in Syria, went to Deir Ezzor.
A Syrian refugees speaks about exile and homeland: Go See What Happened to My City, Then You’ll Know How I Am
Ammar Azzouz is a Syrian man from Homs, who left his country in 2011 to escape the war and now lives in Britain. He wrote a piece for The New York Times, in which he spoke about his hometown which once was “the capital of the Syrian Revolution and in all the newspaper headlines” has now turned “flattened or shot full of holes. In the end, as everyone knows, the government took back what was left.”
Azzouz says he is not sure his British friends “could ever understand what it means to be broken into pieces. I’m not even sure I could explain it to them. Maybe my language was destroyed when my city was destroyed.”
“Sometimes,“ he says, “when they ask me how I am, I want to say: Go and see what happened to Homs, then you’ll know how I am.”