Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN and Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the UN, snub the Security Council on the situation in Libya.
© UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Idleb worst hit in weekend violence

Violence surrounded protests which took place in most major cities over the weekend, claiming a number of lives.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported “Eight persons from police forces, security forces and civilians were martyred on Friday by armed terrorist gangs”.

While foreign news agencies said elite security forces moved through northern Syrian provinces destroying farmland and attacking protesters in what a number of analysts called a “scorched earth” policy. But official media blamed this on “armed gangs” which, it said, burned the farmers crops.

Last week the government said 120 security forces were killed in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shaghour.

But Al-Watan reported the area around Jisr al-Shaghour was “under control” and that the army was preparing an offensive against the Azawi Mountain.

Several reports emerged over the weekend suggesting that attack helicopters targeted protesters in Maaret al-Nuuman in Idleb province.

Responding to the reports, an army source told the state-run Tishreen newspaper “rescue helicopters attempting to evacuate the martyrs and the wounded were subjected to heavy gunfire by the armed terrorist groups, injuring the helicopters crews.

The newspaper also quoted an interior ministry source denying as “baseless” reports from residents of Jisr al-Shaghour that soldiers and security forces were executed for disobeying orders.

Some reporters, including one AP journalist were allowed access to the town for the first time and said they came under attack.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Turkey’s ATV television that the country should support a UN resolution on Syria. “They are not acting in a humane manner. This is savagery,” he said.

No official response to the statements has yet been issued. But an editorial in Al-Watan criticised the Turkish leader for pursuing NATO and Islamist goals in the Arab World.

Ziad Abu Sharwish wrote: “His u-turn was not surprising as, like Qatar, Turkey hosts some of the biggest US bases in the region.” Adding that his “alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood supports...the historical deal between the Brotherhood and the US to put a stop to the Arab revolutions”.

China, Russia snub UN talks on Syria

Russia and China failed to show up for UN Security Council talks on a draft resolution condemning Syria on Saturday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the Security Council in a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday that if the council approved the European draft resolution, it would only embolden “extremists and terrorists.”

According to the UN chief, Ban Ki-Moon made several attempts to contact President Bashar al-Assad by telephone over the weekend without success.

Thousands flee violence to Turkey

Thousands of refugees from northern Syria have crossed the Syria-Turkey border near Jisr ash-Shugur.

A senior Turkish diplomat told the state-run Anatolia news agency 4,300 people had made the journey as of Saturday morning and more were expected.

Turkey welcomed a great many number of guests in the past in their times of most dire need. We can do that again,” Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Halit Cevik was quoted as saying by state-run news agency.

In an interview with the BBC, Syria’s state TV director Reem Haddad said the crowds leaving for Turkey were going to visit family on the other side of the border.

Syria Today (Syria)