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Peace Plan Agreed for Syria

Fighting to stop within a week

The parties meeting at the Peace talks in Munich Germany on Thursday 11th February issued a dramatic statement saying that fighting in Syria would end within a week.

Twelve  nations participated in the talks, however Russia said it would continue its action. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister said it was only a firt step towards peace and that his countrfy was still pressing ahead with its campaign of airstrikes.

The Da'ish (IS), al Nusra and several other terror groups were not involved in the talks  so are not expected to participate in the truce.

Cyprus rescues more refugees

Refugees on board a sailing boat were winched to safety by helicopters after their craft began sinking off Cyprus.  The overnight rescue operation took place off Cap Greco near Famgusta, and the refugees were taken to hospital where they needed treatment for hypothermia. Cyprus has not seen many refugees landing, partly because it is not in the Shengen area and rarely gives assylum. The 115 refugees who landed at RAF Akrotiri in October have been rioting in protest at being kept in tents and not flown to the UK.

Russia confirms position on Assad

Russia's Foreign Affairs Minister has said it is not crucial that Assad remains in power, but it was a matter for the Syrian people to decide. On being asked if President Assad remaining in power was a matter of principle, Maria Zakharova said
Absolutely Not, we have never said this.
She also spoke about new peace talks, incolving Iran and the USA, taking place during November.

US & Russian pilots communicate

Pilots from the Russian and American Air Forces have now taken part in joint radio tests over Syria to ensure communications protocals work during future engagements. The tests were to esnure the protocals agreed in Vienna in late October are all working and clearly understood. A senior Russian military official confirmed that the test was designed to
to train crews and ground services for incidents of dangerous proximity of aircraft

A family of six who fled to Russia

Refugees trapped at border

Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been left stranded at a border crossing  when Austria refused them access. Around 400 refugees were left in the open without light, heat or food and in very bad weather.  The refugees had been accompanied to the Austrian border by Slovenian military on Monday and abandoned there. Eighty of the refugeess are young children, including a dozen or so babies. They are being held behind barbed wire fences and razor wire by armed Austrian soldiers.

120,000 new refugees 

OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) says that 120,00 more refugees have been driven from their homes in just three weeks. Between the 5th and the 22nds October residents of villages in the Hama, Aleppo and Idlib governates fled their homes, most opf them to camps at the Turkish border.

Last week IS forces seized new territories in Aleppo, pushing out rival rebels and fighting with government troops.  The Norwegian Council for refugees says that over 250,000 Syrians have now been killed in the civil war and over half the county's 23 million population had been driven from their homes.

Assad welcomes Russians

A delegation of Russian diplomats was welcomed in Damascus on Monday by President Bashar Assad. he said: "eliminating the terrorist groups would solve Syria's problems.

Support for Free Syrian Army

The Russian Air Force in Syria said on Saturday that it is now ready  to provide cover for the Free Syrian Army. The Western backed opposition group has been battling Bashar Assad.  The announcement came in an interview on Russia's ROSSIYA 1 TV channel and was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  On Friday Mr Lavrov reached agreement in Vienna with his US counterpart John Kerry to explore new ways to reach politcal agreement. Foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia also attended the meeting.

The Syrian Free Army rejected the offer of help from Russia saying "Only if they stop attacking our bases can we talk about future co-operation." The southern branch of the SFE said they did not turn down the offer, but were just rejecting it for now.

35,000 more refugees flee their homes
Thirty five thousand  Syrian villagers are fleeing homes this week in the countryside to the south of Aleppo. Their flight comes after  Syrian government troops attacked rebels in the area. The Syrian troops are being backed  by Russian airstrikes. There are three other offensives taking place, focused on rural areas in the areas around Homs, Hama and Latakia.

U.N. officials estimate that about 35,000 villagers are on the move near Aleppo, trying to escape Russian bombing raids near the villages of Khan, al-Hader and Tuman.

Israeli sailors save Arab refugees 

A party of Israel weekend sailors rescued a dozen Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the sea after their boat sank while en-route to Europe on Sunday.  Members of the Poseidon Sailing Club were having a leisurely sail out when they found first one and then finally 11 refugees in the water, several miles offshore. One of those rescued was a mother and her dead baby who had perished in the waves.  Four children were saved and 8 adults.

Shlomo Asban, the captain of the Israeli yacht said "I have never seen anothing like it, in forty years at sea. We heard one guy calling to be saved and eventually brought twelve of them into our boat. The mother told me she had held her baby's body all night."  The Jews, all from Ashod, said the refugees were surprised by their compassion. "We simply gave them water and let them use our cellphones to call their families."  said Captain Asban.

EU leaders discuss Turkey & Refugees

The leaders of the EU countries are meeting in Brussels today. Their talks will include how best to reduce the refugee problem, and ralations with Turkey.  Most of th 600,000 migrants into Europe so far in 20156 have come via Turkey. There are now almost 2 million refugees in Turkey, most fleeing the Syrian crisis.

Norway to return Syrian refugees to Russia

The Norwegian Government has announced it is to return some of the 1200 refugees who have entered their country via Russia this year. "Some of them have lived for some time in Russia, they already were safe in Russia and are not really assylum seekers, simply economic migrants," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende. 

Military Chiefs to liaise over flights

The military commanders are finally getting together to discuss "de-confliction" in the skies over Syria today.  The news was announced by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter as jets from the USA and Russia pounded tagrets around Palmera and Homs. Carter said that the talks would not include joint assaults and called Russia's action as "strategiclaly short-sighted." 

President Putin criticised Washington for refusing to share intelligence  and accused the US of "Muddled thinking."

Opposition to boycott UN talks

In Damascus the Syrian Opposition leader (Khaled Khioja of the National Coalition) said he would boycott the UN talks  in protest at the Russian airstrikes. The talks were proposed by UN Envoy B Staffan de Mistura, who left the US for further talks in Moscow on Monday.

Fireman set refugee buildings ablaze

German politicians and refugees are outraged over a fireman who has admitted to setting a refugee and asylum shelter ablaze and been allowed to walk free, pending charges. No one was hurt in the arson attack in the small town of Altena south of Dortmund.

China - Syria talks

The Syrian Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban met the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming and discussed with him the latest developments regarding the crisis in Syria and the counter-terrorism efforts it is exerting. Shaaban stressed the need for cooperation to prevent the spread of terrorism, thanking the Chinese government for its balanced positions and its support for peoples’ rights and international legitimacy.

World Leaders discuss Syria at UNGA

See Full Reports HERE.

Iran, Rusia and Iraq ally with Syria

The Government of Iraq has announced that its military is working with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIL. The pact has been announced just hours before major UN conference in New York on the Syrian conflict, which will be attended by 170 nations, including the US, the UK and Russia. President Putin is expected to demand that President Assad be involved in the solution to the Syrian crisis.

The Russian news agency (Interfax) announced that the new  Baghdad Coordination Centre will be led on a rotating basis by officers of the four countries, starting with Iraq.

UN Special Envoy Angeline Jolie

to adopt a Syrian child?

Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt are said to be expanding their family of six children by adopting at least one Syrian orphan.

Ms Jolie reportedly met up with three Syrian brothers who were orphaned last year while on her recent trip to visit refugees in the camps in Turkey. Their father had been taken prisoner by soldiers and their mother was killed in a bombing incident.  She wanted to adopt all three but her husband Brad sejected the idea, fearing that it would be hard for their children to adjust to such a huge change in the dynamics of the family. 

Mr and Mrs Pitt are already parents to six children, three biological children of theior own, including Shiloh, eight, and six-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, plus they have three adopted children:  Maddox ,13, from Cambodia, Pax, 11, from Vietnam, and Ethiopian Zahara, 10.

British PM visits refugee camp

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, visited Lebanon this morning. He has already spent over an hour in the Bekaa Valley, just 20 miles from the border with Syria. He also met with the Lebanese Foreign Minister and the Minister for Education.At the camp, Mr Cameron said: "I wanted to come here to see for myself and to hear for myself stories of refugees and what they need."

"We will go on doing that including increasing the amount of money we are giving to educate Syrian children here in Lebanon and elsewhere. I think that's absolutely vital." The British Government is spending £1bn in camps neighbouring Syria, including £300m in Lebanon.

Mr Cameron stressed that, despite the images of thousands of refugees entering Europe, 97% of those fleeing the Syrian war had remained in the region. More than a million Syrian refugees now live in Lebanon, which has a population of 4.5 million. Some £29m of an extra £100m announced by the PM this month will be spent in Lebanon paying for food, accommodation and help with schooling for Syrian refugees displaced from the camps.

Syrian youths become disenfrachised

     - Mercy Corps report
Syrian youth and children are enduring crises in every aspect of their life, according to a new report published by Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organization that works with people in crisis zones.

Since the uprising broke out in March 2011, more than 240,000 people have been killed, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. More than 4 million Syrians have also been rendered refugees in other countries, while another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.

Mercy Corps’ new report – No One Hears Us – found that a majority of children and youth in Syria “feel hopeless, isolated and disenfranchised.” It concludes that “we need to support girls, boys and parents to develop solutions to restore self-confidence and hope to young people inside Syria.”

UN Resolution on Peace in Syria delayed

Lebanon's leading newspaper THE DAILY STAR is reporting today that the UNITED NATIONS Security Council approval of a draft U.N. statement has been held up due to objections from Venezuala.  The resolution backing intensive preparatory talks on key issues to restore peace to conflict-torn Syria delays may however be short lived.

Council diplomats had hoped to adopt the presidential statement Wednesday afternoon. But Venezuela asked for changes to some language about a political transition and discussions were continuing, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private. "Expect it to be adopted tomorrow," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters as he left the council Wednesday afternoon.

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