News from 12/2016

29 December 2016

Activists Start 1800 miles Walk From Berlin to Aleppo

'We are all human': Demonstrators demanding peace in Syria begin 1800-mile ... PUBLISHED: 13:07 GMT ...

Hundreds of activists have started to march from Berlin to Aleppo in solidarity with Syrians

Anna Alboth said she could no longer sit and watch news reports without taking action herself. .Polish journalist Anna Alboth, who initiated the idea, stressed that the campaign is not affiliated to any political organisation.

Anna is a press journalist.  She worked for different media in Poland during the last few years …Read

Berlin - Aleppo Peace March Begins

Hundreds of activists set off from Berlin on Monday on a three and a half month march to Aleppo to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Known as the ‘Civil March for Aleppo’, organisers say the group plans to pass through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

The team of international organisers, headed by journalist and travel blogger Anna Alboth, have warned participants that they should be prepared to sleep in the ‘wild’ as they rely on…Read

28 December 2016

Anna Alboth:  the woman walking to Aleppo to ‘end the Syrian war’

A young Polish woman, Anna Alboth says she has been so angered at the reports of civilian deaths in Syria that she is organising a march from Berlin to Aleppo to try to bring an end to the war. Anna said she could no longer sit and watch news reports without taking action herself.

So she is organising the Civil March for Aleppo, a 3,400km (2,100-mile) walk that will retrace the footsteps of refugees who managed to escape the war in Syria and make it to the safety of Germany. The journalist,…Read

26 December 2016

For Europe’s sake, Angela Merkel must hold the centre ground

And really we live in dark times when “to talk about trees is almost a crime/ because it involves being silent about so many atrocities!” Thus Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s and thus Europe today. Berlin now joins Madrid, Paris, London and Nice on the memorial roll of major terrorist attacks on European soil this century.

The name of Breitscheidplatz, a somewhat dreary, elongated square in the strangely centreless centre of the old West Berlin, will now become a synecdoche for terror, joining the Bataclan in Paris, the Atocha station in Madrid and the Promenade…Read

25 December 2016

Helping to get the refugees back on their feet

Syrians, Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis launch community initiatives - Fantastic News

Athens, Greece - About one in 10 of the 60,000 refugees in Greece do not live in government camps or NGO shelters, but in squats such as disused schools which operate under the protection of the anarchist movement.

In these corners, refugees from Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq are creating their own community centres in Athens. Now that they have food, clothing and education, they are striving for a fuller lives and self empowerment.

Jafra is the first relief organisation in Greece formed exclusively…Read

Islamic face veils in Germany - burka and the niqab

German chancellor Angela Merkel tells delegates at the Christian Democratic Union’s conference in Essen, Germany on Tuesday that a ‘full facial veil is inappropriate’ and should be banned. It is the first time she has endorsed her party’s call for a partial ban on burqa and niqab

In a speech on Monday December 6, Mrs Merkel: ”Show your face. The full covering is not permissible and should be banned."

Ukip has long called for a ban Islamic full face veils in Britain and has pointed to…Read

The year the world changed By Allan Little BBC News

 2016 presents Germany with a new challenge and a new responsibility: how to lead in Europe without appearing to dominate in Europe. For the idea of German domination still rouses too many ghosts - not least for the Germans themselves.

2016 has changed the shape of the post-Cold War order of things - economically, politically, geo-strategically. We know what we are in transition from, but not yet what we are in transition to:



24 December 2016

More than 75,000 Syrian refugees are trapped on the border between Syria and Jordan

Tens thousands of Syrians remain trapped on the Jordan border with food, water and medicine running at critically low levels.

Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Mueller urged more countries to step up to help millions of Syrian refugees. He says "this appeal is especially directed at the Arab world, countries like Qatar".

Mueller spoke during a tour of German-funded projects for refugees in Jordan. Some 5 million Syrians have fled the civil war since 2011, most settling in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

In June, Jordan sealed its border with Syria after a car…Read

23 December 2016

Syria war: From besieged Madaya, desperate calls for help

As well as destroying all the homes in Aleppo, any means of livelihood have also gone.  How can this be called, a victory?  Based on this report., people are treated with complete indifference.

Mohamed al-Maleh was playing on the rooftop of a building in the Syrian town of Madaya when, his father said, a sniper hit him. The 12-year-old boy fell, severely injured in his head. Moussa al-Maleh rushed to get him treated. "He was a happy boy, but wasn't having a life of a normal child," he said, recalling Mohamed's…Read

Syrian war: Red Cross doctor’s letter from Aleppo to the BBC

As some of the most vulnerable people in Aleppo were moved from a former old-people's home near the city's front line on Wednesday, a Red Cross doctor involved in their evacuation sent the BBC this letter: Working as a doctor for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), I have seen many things in Syria during the past five years. But nothing like this. We'd tried to reach the centre the previous day, but couldn't get the necessary security guarantees. The fighting had been too intense. Three people at the centre died during that…Read

21 December 2016

Leaving Aleppo

The Syrian army has called on the last remaining rebels to leave the eastern districts of Aleppo, as the evacuation process continues. The BBC has been speaking to activists who left eastern Aleppo over the past couple of days. They told us about their journey out of the besieged enclave



20 December 2016

‘Life disappeared before my eyes’: photographer describes killing of Russian ambassador

Photographer Burhan Ozbilici was attending an exhibition in Ankara when Mevlut Mert Altıntas shot and killed Andrei Karlov.

Here Ozbilici, who works for the Associated Press, describes what happened:

The event seemed routine, the opening of an exhibit of photographs of Russia. So when a man in a dark suit and tie pulled out a gun, I was stunned and thought it was a theatrical flourish.

Instead, it was a coolly calculated assassination, unfolding in front of me and others who scrambled, terrified, for cover as the trim man with short hair…Read

19 December 2016

Evacuation of Syrians from east Aleppo resumes

Buses begin leaving with civilians and rebels as part of deal, after some buses from two besieged villages were burned.

The deal to end fighting marks a major victory for Assad [Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters] The evacuation of Syrian civilians and fighters from eastern Aleppo under a complicated agreement has resumed, after the Security Council in New York agreed on a draft resolution aimed at ensuring that UN officials can monitor the process.

The Security Council was expected to vote on the text on Monday, according to diplomats and UN officials.

Earlier, a number…Read

Aleppo deal stalls again after evacuation buses attacked and torched 19/12/2016

A deal to free east Aleppo’s remaining civilians in exchange for sick and wounded from two pro-government villages was again stalled on Sunday after six buses sent to evacuate the loyalist areas were stopped and torched.

The buses were intercepted in an area under the control of Jund al-Aqsa, a jihadi faction aligned to the Syrian opposition. The deal to partially lift a siege of the villages, Fua and Kefraya, had been opposed by the al-Qaida-inspired Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was largely responsible for a three-year siege of the majority-Shia enclaves.

Sabotage attempts…Read

18 December 2016

UN Security Council To Vote On Aleppo Observers Today

Dec 18, 2016 | 15:01 IST | SOURCE : PTI

The UN Security Council will vote today on a French proposal to send observers to the flashpoint Syrian city of Aleppo to monitor evacuations and report on the protection of civilians, diplomats said.

The council will meet at 10:00 am (2030 IST) to decide on the draft resolution, despite resistance from Russia, Syria's ally and a veto-wielding Security Council member. (The UN Security Council "power of veto" refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom,…Read

Desperate ‘thousands’ await evacuation from Aleppo

ALEPPO: Trapped Syrian civilians and fighters waited desperately on Saturday for evacuations to resume from a rebel-held enclave in Aleppo as the Red Cross pleaded for a deal to "save thousands of lives"  A rebel representative told AFP agreement had been reached to allow more people to leave the city which has been ravaged by some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 310,000 people.But there was no confirmation from President Bashar al-Assad's regime or its staunch allies Russia and Iran, which are under mounting international pressure to end what…Read

17 December 2016

The lessons from Aleppo’s tragic fate

GROZNY, Dresden, Guernica: some cities have made history by being destroyed. Aleppo, once Syria’s largest metropolis, will soon join their ranks. Its 1,000-year-old Muslim heritage has turned to dust; Russian aircraft have targeted its hospitals and schools; its citizens have been shelled, bombed, starved and gassed (see article). Nobody knows how many of the tens of thousands who remain in the last Sunni Arab enclave will die crammed inside the ruins where they are sheltering. But even if they receive the safe passage they have been promised, their four-year ordeal in Aleppo has blown apart the principle…Read

16 December 2016

Ghosts of Aleppo

Aleppo and its residents have endured a horrific war for the last five years. Mauricio Morales | 15 Dec 2016 10:41 GMT

Aleppo, Syria - East Aleppo was the most important urban area controlled by the armed opposition in Syria.

Since the uprising in 2011, Aleppo and its residents have endured a horrific war for the past five years, Syrian fighter jets pounded the city, Scud missiles levelled blocks, and barrel bombs thrown from helicopters destroyed everything near them - children, women or men, civilians or fighters.

Lately the Russian air force has joined in the destruction of…Read

15 December 2016

New Aleppo ceasefire allows Syrian civilians to evacuate, rebels say

A new deal to evacuate civilians from east Aleppo has been reached, rebel officials said late on Wednesday, after a day of intense shuttle diplomacy and violent bombardment in the opposition enclave.

Under the terms of the deal, confirmed by two rebel officials, a ceasefire was expected to go into effect half an hour before midnight Aleppo time. Civilians and the wounded in east Aleppo were expected to begin evacuating from the city at 6am on Thursday. A spokesperson for Noureddine al-Zinki, one of the armed opposition groups in Aleppo, said the deal would also allow the…Read

Blame game starts as Aleppo’s rebels fall

By Jeremy Bowen BBC Middle East editor The scene at the Security Council in New York on Tuesday afternoon was worth thousands of words about the failure of diplomacy in Syria. Let's not forget that these were top diplomats talking about the gravest humanitarian emergency of our time and the most dangerous crisis in the world's most unstable region. The UN's founders wanted the horse-shoe desks in the chamber of the Security Council to be the heart of global diplomacy. Instead, in a blizzard of bitter criticism and recrimination, the assembled representatives of the world's…Read

14 December 2016

Syria’s civil war to mar Obama legacy

By Matt Spetalnick and Jonathan Landay | WASHINGTON The fall of the last rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo could seal the fate of the "Obama Doctrine," deepening the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades and staining U.S. President Barack Obama's legacy.

With the U.S.-aligned rebels facing defeat by government forces backed by Russia and Iran, Obama’s light-footprint approach to the Syrian conflict will suffer a serious blow weeks before he hands power to President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

The rebel loss would underscore the failure…Read

13 December 2016

Aleppo: Assad forces within ‘moments’ of retaking city amid reports of atrocities

Residents of east Aleppo have sent out desperate messages imploring the international community to save civilians in besieged districts of the Syrian city, as forces loyal to the president, Bashar al-Assad, bear down on the remaining enclaves still controlled by the opposition.

“Aleppo is being destroyed and burned completely,” said Mohammad Abu Rajab, a doctor in the besieged areas of the city, in a voice message. “This is a final distress call to the world. Save the lives of these children and women and old men. Save them. Nobody is left. You might not…Read

Syrian government forces summarily executing dozens of civilians -  Genocide

Residents told Al Jazeera that government forces summarily executed dozens of civilians over alleged connections to opposition fighters. The figure could not be independently verified by Al Jazeera.

A summary execution is an execution in which a person is accused of a crime and immediately killed without benefit of a full and fair trial.

Delayed ceasefire

The US state department said on Monday that Russia told the US it wanted a ceasefire in east Aleppo delayed for several days, a proposal the agency said was unacceptable in view of the continued attacks on…Read

Syrian refugee gets top results at Australian school

By Meabh Ritchie Newsbeat reporter 

A Syrian refugee who couldn't speak English two years ago has just passed exams with flying colours in Australia.

But Saad Al-Kaab wasn't always the best student. Saad was 14 years old when the civil war started in his country in 2011. He later fled Syria with his family to live in Melbourne, sponsored by his uncle. His older brother's arrest by the regime - for helping coordinate food aid and humanitarian efforts as a scout leader - was a "red line" and the family decided they had…Read

12 December 2016

I think people have forgotten how savage and fierce, cruel and ferocious other people can be

To complete the infamies of 2016, now comes Bashar al-Assad’s impending victory in Aleppo – today’s Guernica, even if there is no Picasso to depict it. Events in Syria define the arrival of a new barbarism. Even in the most terrible days of 20th-century conflict, combatants would respect minimum rules. Civilians were not surrogates for the enemy. Organisations such as the Red Cross – independently and impartially alleviating suffering on either side on the basis of no other value than human need – were allowed to do their work.

No more. Aleppo completes a…Read

11 December 2016

Syria, Russia pound rebel-held Aleppo but advances halt

Syrian government forces lose control of most of Palmyra as ISIS re-enters the ancient city

Syria's military and Russian warplanes bombarded rebel-held districts of Aleppo on Saturday as Damascus's allies said victory was near, but insurgents fought back and army advances halted after rapid gains during the week.

The United States said it was meeting a Russian team in Geneva to find a way to save lives, but an agreement looked elusive as the two countries, which back opposing sides, have repeatedly failed to strike a deal to allow evacuations and help aid…Read

10 December 2016

409 civilians, including 45 children have been killed

The UN General Assembly voted on Friday in favour of a non-binding resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Syria and humanitarian aid access. But the document was not expected to have much effect, with Britain's ambassador describing it as "too little, too late".

Forces have captured about 85 percent of the city's rebel-held east with people trapped in increasingly grim conditions



Aleppo bombing will continue until rebels leave, Russia says

Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul

Statement comes one day after Moscow said Syrian military would pause its strikes to allow civilians to leave city

Turkey, a stalwart backer of the rebels, accused the Assad regime on Thursday of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity but said it was involved in negotiations with Russia over a possible ceasefire.

“The developments in Aleppo are of serious concern for all of us,” said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “The regime continues to openly commit war crimes…Read

9 December 2016

Syrian army’s Aleppo advance slows, but victory in sight

By Laila Bassam and John Davison | ALEPPO, SYRIA/BEIRUT

The Syrian army's advance in Aleppo slowed on Thursday but a victory was still firmly in sight after President Bashar al-Assad vowed that retaking the city would change the course of the six-year-old war.

Russia's RIA news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying the Syrian army, which has captured territory including Aleppo's historic Old City in recent days, had halted military activity to let civilians leave rebel-held territory.

However, Reuters reporters in a government-held part of the city…Read

8 December 2016

Push for east Aleppo aid drops using GPS-guided parachutes

Politicians call for American air-drop technology known as JPads to be used to supply besieged Syrian civilians, but militaries reported to be reluctant

Western diplomats have conceded that there are no technical obstacles to a plan to deliver airdrops of food and medicine to Aleppo using a GPS-guided parachute system, but the scheme has been stalled in the face of reluctance among military commanders and an absence of political will.

Diplomats and military from six governments – including the UK, US, France and Germany – have now seen the detailed operational plan proposed by an…Read

Aleppo’s Old City destroyed

Battles continue between pro-government forces and insurgents in Aleppo’s Old City, with Damascus slowly winning back territory. RT’s Lizzie Phelan and her crew were the first journalists to visit the neighborhoods just captured by the government.

Earlier, Russia offered the remaining rebels the opportunity to pull out of the city, while warning that those who refuse the offer and stay will be considered terrorists and, thus, legitimate targets. It was expected that the solution would be backed by the US, but American diplomats abruptly postponed talks scheduled for this week, while withdrawing its…Read

7 December 2016

Syrian troops enter Aleppo’s Old City, poised for war’s biggest victory

Syrian government forces have reclaimed five more districts in the eastern part of Aleppo, according to the Russian Center for Reconciliation. Some reports suggest up to 85 percent of the area, previously controlled by rebels, has now been liberated

“By the evening of December 6, the Syrian army established full control over five more neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo,” the Reconciliation Center said in a statement on Tuesday. This puts the number of eastern Aleppo neighborhoods liberated from rebels in the recent offensive by government forces to 35, it said.

READ MORE: 'Cynical & indifferent': Russian MoD…Read

6 December 2016

Why is the British government silent about Aleppo?

This article asks the same question that many people must be asking.  Why was the British government so silent about Aleppo. Perhaps the article goes someway to providing an explanation. Given the events that have unfolded since the article was written the points made have become even more relevant and consequently I would argue that the same questions will still be asked 100 years from now.

Russian aircraft yesterday bombed water pumping station in Neirab ...…Read

Thousands of people flee Aleppo

Signs that the dogged resistance to the Syrian Army and Russian airforce in eastern Aleppo may be crumbling have started to appear as thousands of people fled to areas under government control, either due to starvation, the continued air assault or the advance of Syrian troops.

The rebel troops retreated on Sunday, faced by the risk of being split into two due to Syrian army advances.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights initially said about 400 people from the Masaken Hanano neighbourhood sought refuge after it was captured by pro-government forces on Saturday, and that…Read


Government forces further push into rebel-held areas as Russia and China veto ceasefire plan for besieged Aleppo.

Al-Shaar neighbourhood is now effectively encircled by government forces, monitoring group says [Reuters]

Syrian government forces gained more ground in the battle for Aleppo on Monday, as Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that sought a seven-day truce in the battered city.

Three weeks into their offensive, the army and allied militias seized the Qadi Askar neighbourhood overnight and were in control of about two-thirds of the former rebel territory in east Aleppo.<…Read

War Drawing to a close in Aleppo


Civilians in Aleppo’s decimated rebel-held neighborhoods said Monday their situation is growing increasingly desperate as signs mount that the opposition in the city faces potential collapse from the Syrian regime’s latest onslaught.

Rebels in Aleppo estimate that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and their allies now hold some 60% of the territory in the city the opposition controlled just over a week ago, though the situation remains fluid and difficult to assess.

The mounting defeats are causing…Read

Aleppo War Draws to a close


Civilians in Aleppo’s decimated rebel-held neighborhoods said Monday their situation is growing increasingly desperate as signs mount that the opposition in the city faces potential collapse from the Syrian regime’s latest onslaught.

Rebels in Aleppo estimate that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and their allies now hold some 60% of the territory in the city the opposition controlled just over a week ago, though the situation remains fluid and difficult to assess.

The mounting defeats are causing despair among civilians and fighters. Even as rebels reported…Read

5 December 2016

Trying to leave Aleppo

Two Russian soldiers were injured by enemy fire in Aleppo when a humanitarian corridor they were guarding was shelled by militants, the Russian military reported.


4 December 2016

Aleppo siege: Bashar al-Assad tells citizens they have 24 hours to flee city before renewed bombing

The Independent Online is reporting the following statements" 

"The Syrian government has reportedly sent out text messages to residents in east Aleppo warning they have 24 hours to flee before a new, intensified bombing campaign begins.

Russia announced a “humanitarian pause” on the bombing campaign against rebel-held eastern districts last week, but now the area’s 275,000 besieged residents are bracing themselves once again."

But how can the 275000 people that the Independent refers to organise them selves to do this?…Read

Reuters has reported that: Russia seeks full withdrawal of Aleppo rebels

Russia said on Saturday it was ready for talks with the United States about a withdrawal of all Syrian rebels from eastern Aleppo, where advances by the Russian-backed Syrian army and its allies threaten to deal a crushing blow to the rebellion.

The problem with statements like this is that it's all been said before and a better interpretation is that Russia is seeking some form of glory from all of this and now believes it would be timely to be seen by other nations as being and wanting to hold peace talks.


3 December 2016

The Guardian view on Aleppo: the west’s grim failure Editorial

As Assad’s forces, backed by the Russians, make their final move on Syria’s second city, the world can only count the cost of a humanitarian and military disaster it failed to stop.

Exhausted parents clutching terrified children in their arms, young people pushing the old in makeshift carts or wheelchairs and families pulling overstuffed suitcases: the scenes from east Aleppo are those of a new exodus. As Syrian government forces move on the last urban stronghold of the anti-Assad opposition, helped by Shia militias from Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah, hundreds of men have…Read

Syrian rebels blame Russia for stalled Aleppo talks

Little relief for civilians despite weeks of indirect meetings in Turkey between Syrian opposition officials and Russia.

Tension between Syrian opposition groups and Russia has escalated, with weeks of secret meetings in Turkey making little apparent progress on lifting the siege of eastern Aleppo.

Russia is a key backer of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been bombing opposition-held areas since September last year.

Turkey backs the Syrian anti-government fighters and has been acting as a mediator in the meetings.

Syrian opposition officials told Reuters news agency on Friday that…Read

2 December 2016

Thousands of civilians trapped inside rebel-held parts of Aleppo as fighting intensifies (VIDEO)

As Syrian government forces continue their advance in eastern Aleppo, thousands of civilians still remain trapped inside parts of the city controlled by the militants who are apparently blocking them from reaching humanitarian corridors,

RT’s Lizzie Phelan reports. While fighting continues to intensify as the Syrian army aims to retake neighborhoods occupied by Al-Nusra Front terrorists and other militant groups, thousands of civilians still remain trapped in the midst of hotspots unable to break away.

More than one-third of the militant-held eastern half of Aleppo has been retaken over the recent days, including…Read

Syria war: UN holds emergency meeting on Aleppo’s ‘descent into hell’

(CNN)The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Wednesday on the dire humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which a UN official described as a "descent into hell."

"For the sake of humanity, we call on, we plead with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard," UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien told council members during the meeting.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for the meeting a…Read

Troops advance in Aleppo, Russia proposes aid corridors

Despite global criticism and UN warning Aleppo risks becoming a "giant graveyard", Syrian government forces press on.

Elite Syrian troops have moved into east Aleppo ahead of a push into the most densely populated areas, as ally Russia called for corridors to bring in aid and evacuate wounded.



Aleppo rebels hope to reverse fortunes with new alliance

Rebels in Aleppo have agreed to form a new military alliance to better organize the defense of parts of the city they control from a ferocious assault by the government and its allies, officials in two of the insurgent groups said on Thursday.

The Syrian government assault backed by allied militia has driven the rebels from more than a third of the territory they held in eastern Aleppo, threatening to crush the rebellion in its most important urban stronghold.

Rivalry among rebel groups has been seen as one of their major flaws throughout the war.<…Read

1 December 2016

Aleppo residents at risk of extermination:UN ENVOY

UN envoy urges access to residents of eastern Aleppo as at least 26 more killed while trying to flee the fighting.

Residents of Syria's Aleppo are at risk of extermination and the clock is ticking on the besieged city as winter sets in, a top UN envoy told the Security Council.

Stephen O'Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, made the comments on Wednesday as at least 26 more civilians, including seven children, were killed while trying to flee the government ground offensive in rebel-held east Aleppo.

"Today there was another massacre, I…Read