Syria. According to Countryaah, the civil war in Syria escalated. About 120,000 people, including more than 11,000 children, had been killed in violence since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime erupted in the spring of 2011. At least two million Syrians were fleeing from outside the country, the vast majority in neighboring countries, and 4, 5 million were internally displaced. About half of the refugees were children, most of them ten years or younger. Among those who moved the country, according to a report, were also 15,000 doctors. A large part of the country’s health care had been eliminated and diseases such as measles, typhoid and hepatitis A ravaged. Polio also erupted.
According to an independent UN commission, the regime and its militias were guilty of extensive war crimes in the form of, for example. indiscriminate grenade shooting, extrajudicial executions, torture and sexual violence. The rebels also committed more and more war crimes.
In spring and summer, increasingly frequent reports came that chemical weapons had been used, among other things. in and near Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. On August 21, three areas in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta were fired with artillery robots loaded with nerve gas sarin. Men, women and children lost their breath, became scared, lost sight, became nauseous and in many cases unconscious to soon perish. The number of people killed was unclear, but according to US government sources, it involved more than 1,400 people, including at least 426 children.
UN inspectors, led by the Swedish Åke Sellström, secured samples from survivors, land and weapons residues and within a few weeks were able to confirm the use of sarin and also ascertain what type of robots were used, among other things. a Russian-made. Whoever relieved them did not speak out about the UN, but judges found that these weapons had only been observed in the regime’s hands at the same time as the robotic paths pointed in the direction of regime controlled territory. Syria is suspected of possessing over 1,000 tonnes of raw material for the nerve gases sarin, mustard gas and VX.
The nuclear weapons attack became the starting point for rapid diplomatic efforts. The United States threatened with attacks against the regime, and US Secretary of State John Kerry said on September 9 that the only way for al-Assad to avoid an attack was to put all chemical weapons under international control within a week. The statement, which was generally perceived as a gunshot, was captured by the Russian Federation which within a few hours prompted Syria to accept the play. The United States and the Russian Federation presented a joint proposal on how Syria should be deprived of its nuclear weapons capabilities.
The proposal resulted in a binding UN declaration unanimously adopted by the Security Council on 28 September. The declaration stated that Syria must dispose of all chemical weapons and give the weapons inspectors unrestricted access to all suspected facilities. Inspectors from OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) already reported on October 31 that all Syrian chemical weapons production equipment had been destroyed. By the end of mid-2014, the weapons themselves would also have been eliminated.
In the field, the successes achieved by the rebels during the first two years of the uprising were partially broken. From April, Shiite Hizbullahs from Lebanon came to play an increasingly important role, and with their support in June, the regime side returned to the strategically located city of Qusair near the Lebanese border, and in December took the important highway between Damascus and Homs. The opposition, which was estimated to include 100,000 people in a thousand different groups, became increasingly fragmented. For example, jihadists in the al-Qaeda-related ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) hit on several occasions with groups within the Western-backed FSA (Free Syrian Army), among others. in the cities of ar-Raqqa and Azaz in the north. ar-Raqqa was held in December by ISIS and thereby classified as the world’s largest al-Qaeda controlled city.
It became more and more obvious that Syria was a battlefield in a battle between foreign powers. al-Assad and his militia groups, deeply rooted in the Alawite clan that is close to Shia Islam, received support from Hizbullah, Iran and the ever-faithful Russian Federation. The various rebel groups were supported by Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The US, UK and France also supported the US with money, supplies, military education or weapons, but the US and Britain stepped down this support in December to avoid it falling into the hands of jihadists.
The United States is increasing sanctions
US faces sanctions against central bank governor Hazem Karfoul and 16 other people or institutions in Syria. Ever since 2011, when a revolt during the “Arab Spring” was brutally crushed by the Assad regime, both the United States and the EU as well as some Arab countries have tried through various forms of sanctions to restrict the Syrian leadership’s freedom of action, including arms purchases (see June 17).
The Netherlands is acting against Assad
The Netherlands is launching an action against Syria aimed at holding the Assad regime accountable for human rights violations. This is done on the basis of a UN Convention against Torture and as a reaction to the fact that attempts to have a trial in the International Criminal Court have been stopped by a veto in the UN Security Council. The case could, as a dispute between the countries, end up in a UN court, in which case probably the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Tensions between Russians and Americans in Syria
The United States, after previously reducing military personnel and equipment in northeastern Syria (see mainly February 22, 2019), will both add troops and increase its air patrol over Americans on the ground. In addition, the presence will be expanded with radar and combat vehicles, says a statement from Centcom, the US Armed Forces’ central command. In terms of numbers, the increase is not large, it is the reverse attitude that arouses interest. Recently, there have been several incidents between Russian and American units in Syria, including a collision on the ground in August when seven Americans were injured. The United States has personnel left in Syria primarily to protect oil wells controlled by the Kurdish-dominated regime in the northeast from being taken over by the Assad regime or by jihadists.
Drones against jihadist leaders
A Tunisian jihadist leader loses his life in Idlib province in a drone attack on his vehicle believed to have been carried out by the United States. The Tunisian, named as Sayyaf al-Tunsi, is said to have played a leading role in the Hurra al-Din group, which is smaller than the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rebel movement but competes with it for influence in Idlib, according to SOHR.
Iraqis die in air strikes
In eastern Syria, 16 dead are reported after what are believed to be Israeli airstrikes. The victims are described as Iraqi militiamen with Iranian sympathies and therefore fighting on the side of the Assad regime in Syria. The attacks take place near the cities of al-Mayadin and Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border. The day before, Syrian air defenses must have managed to prevent Israeli robots from reaching a Syrian air base.