The Syrian government yesterday said that it was ready for further peace talks with the opposition and that it was intent on a political solution to the five-year conflict, which continued unabated as reports emerged of hospitals being hit in airstrikes.
“Syria ... is ready to continue the Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions ... and without foreign interference, with the support of the United Nations,” state news agency SANA quoted a Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official as saying.
The UN hopes to convene a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, next month, UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said last week.
Previous rounds of talks this year broke down as fighting escalated, particularly near Aleppo, where government forces recently cut off the only road into rebel-held areas of the divided northern city.
The US and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, are to discuss a proposal by Washington for closer military cooperation and intelligence sharing on Syria to combat militant groups.
US Secretary of State John Kerry this month said that Washington and Damascus ally Moscow had reached a common understanding on the steps needed to get Syria’s peace process back on track.
Meanwhile, four makeshift hospitals and a blood bank in Aleppo were hit by airstrikes, a group of doctors said yesterday.
The bombardment killed a two-day-old baby in a children’s hospital in a besieged eastern neighborhood of Aleppo, said the Independent Doctor’s Association, a group of Syrian doctors who support clinics in the city.
The infant’s oxygen supply was cut after a strike on the hospital at 1am, the second strike on the hospital in about nine hours, the association said.
“The doctors could only yell for their colleagues to take cover and shield the babies,” the group said in a statement.
The association said the four hospitals that were hit — the children’s hospital, al-Bayan, al-Zahraa and al-Daqaq — would all be going out of service “as a result of the escalating series of aerial attacks taking place against health facilities in Aleppo by Syrian and Russian warplanes.”
The WHO said Syria was the most dangerous place for healthcare workers to operate last year, with 135 attacks on health facilities and workers last year.
In recent months, several hospitals have been damaged and medical staff killed in the densely populated eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo. A hospital in the eastern Maadi neighborhood was hit, wounding some of the staff and patients inside. More than 280,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011, and millions have been forced to flee.
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer