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Syrian peace talks offer hope to trapped civilians

Source : AP/ NY Times | 27 Jan 2014

GENEVA — Two days of face-to-face peace talks yielded a narrow and tentative agreement Sunday for the evacuation of women and children trapped in a besieged Syrian city, and the government said President Bashar Assad had no intention of giving up “the keys to Damascus.”

UN: Syria refugees could reach 3.5 million this year

Source : AP | 08 Jun 2013

The number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries could more than double to 3.5 million by the end of the year, the United Nations said Friday as the global body launched its biggest humanitarian appeal ever.

The UN asked donor countries for $5.2 billion to help alleviate the suffering of millions of people inside and outside Syria who are struggling with the effects of a conflict that has dragged on for more than two years.

EU split over Syria arms ban

Source : Agencies | 27 May 2013

Britain and Austria clashed on Monday over whether the European Union should ease an arms embargo to help Syrian rebels, threatening the unity of the bloc's Syria policy.

Britain and France are pushing hard for the easing of the arms embargo to support rebels ahead of a peace conference sponsored by the United States and Russia expected next month.

Austria leads the camp of five of the EU's 27 governments firmly opposed to sending arms that they believe could deepen the two-year-old Syrian conflict that has cost 80,000 lives.

Nations to boost aid to Syrian rebels until Assad goes

Source : Al Arabiya | 23 May 2013

World powers urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to commit to peace but warned Thursday that if he fails to negotiate a political transition they would boost their backing of the opposition.

The stark warning came from a meeting of the Friends of Syria group, which held talks on Wednesday in Amman to try to agree the contours of a peace conference to end the war.

The conflict, now in its third year, has claimed some 94,000 lives.

Looters take advantage of Syria’s ongoing conflict

Source : AFP | 27 Mar 2013

Sitting on a cushion she has placed atop debris, Samia stares dismally at a pile of rocks, all that remains of her Aleppo home after it was hit by what everyone here simply refers to as “Scuds.”

Every day since the strike last month she has come to sit by her former home, protecting what is left of it from those who would pillage the remains.

“We haven’t seen any humanitarian aid, the only ones who come to see us are thieves,” the 50-year-old says bitterly as men work behind her.

Obama Boosts Syria Support as Congress Pushes Military Intervention

By Samer Araabi | IPS | 25 Mar 2013

As the Syrian uprising enters its third year, the United States and its allies are preparing to materially increase their support of the armed opposition in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry pledged an additional 60 million dollars in direct aid to the rebels, marking the first time Washington will directly supply rebel forces, but the administration appears as wary as ever to get more directly involved.

Syrian National Coalition elects Ghassan Hitto as provisional premier

By Al Arabiya with Agencies | 19 Mar 2013

Syrian opposition coalition members on Tuesday elected former businessman Ghassan Hitto as provisional prime minister in a meeting in Istanbul.

Hitto , who will now be in charge of forming a government to fill a power vacuum in Syria, won 35 out of 48 votes, according to comments made by coalition members after the vote.

“I give great thanks to the heroes and revolutionaries of the Syrian people. We are with you,” Hitto told coalition members in brief remarks after he was named.

The cost of war: Syria’s economy pays a painful price

By Eman El-Shenawi | Al Arabiya | 15 Mar 2013

Amid killings, international condemnation and aggressive politics, Syria’s macro-economic concerns may not be at the forefront of people’s minds. However, the country is facing harsh economic realities, despite the lack of official information.

Repairing the damage caused by two years of fighting could cost up to $80 billion, says Abdullah al-Dardari, former deputy premier for economic affairs under President Bashar al-Assad. This figure has caused shockwaves, amid warning signs in recent months of a looming fiscal collapse.

THE ROVING EYE Syria: A jihadi paradise

By Pepe Escobar | Asia Times | 07 Mar 2013

So Bashar al-Assad hath martially spoken - for the first time in seven months - predictably blaming the Syrian civil war on "terrorists" and "Western puppets".

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he of the former "zero problems with our neighbors" policy, commented that Assad only reads the reports of his secret services. C'mon, Ahmet; Bashar may be no Stephen Hawking, but he's certainly getting his black holes right.

US Ponders Escalated Involvement in Syria's Civil War

By Jon Queally | Agencies | 28 Feb 2013

As fighting and violence intensifies in Damascus and across Syria, reports on Wednesday signal that the US government is readying to further its involvement in the Middle East nation's ongoing civil war by providing "body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training" to the opposition forces aligned against the ruling government of President Bashar al-Asad.

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