Syrian activists yesterday called for nationwide demonstrations in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a day after the main civilian opposition umbrella group agreed to work more closely with the armed rebels.
Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghaliun met with rebel chief Colonel Riad al-Asaad on Thursday and “extensively discussed the situation on the ground and the organizational capacity of the FSA,” a council statement said.
“The parties agreed to formulate a detailed plan, to include the reorganization of FSA units and brigades, and the creation of a format to accommodate within FSA ranks additional officers and soldiers, especially senior military officials, who side with the revolution,” the statement added.
Formed from deserters from the regular army who mutinied over the regime’s deadly 10-month crackdown on anti-government protests, the Free Syrian Army says it has about 40,000 fighters under its command.
The numbers cannot be independently verified, although the Syrian authorities have acknowledged mounting losses at the hands of the rebels in recent months.
“The SNC proposed a plan of action concerning mechanisms and avenues of support to be offered to pro-revolution sectors of the Syrian military,” the group’s statement said.
“Additionally, a direct channel of communication between the SNC and FSA will be established to ensure effective coordination between the two. The SNC intends to establish a liaison office with the FSA in order to maintain direct communications around the clock,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the death of a French journalist in Syria brought new calls for an independent investigation of the violence in the country, following a series of mysterious attacks since December that have killed scores of people despite the presence of Arab League monitors.
The prospects for such an independent probe are slim in Syria, where the government has barred access by most foreign media except on escorted trips. The Arab League observer mission has been beset by problems and itself criticized as merely providing cover for the regime’s crackdown on dissent. Help from the UN is unlikely, in part because Syrian allies Russia and China are blocking action against Damascus.
Humanitarian aid has been turned away, as well. On Thursday, Syrian authorities barred hundreds of people from entering the country from Turkey to deliver medicine, food and other aid.
The French government, human rights groups and Syria’s opposition demanded an inquiry into the death on Wednesday of Gilles Jacquier, 43, in a barrage of grenades in the restive city of Homs. The award-winning correspondent for France-2 Television was the first Western journalist killed in the 10-month-old uprising.
“The killing of the French journalist raises a number of questions — who launched the attacks, what was the purpose?” said Nadim Houry, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“So at this point, what’s important is again to launch a credible investigation,” he added.
The governor of Homs formed a committee to investigate Jacquier’s killing, the state-run news agency said. However, observers say the probe should be international.
Thousands of people, most believed to be unarmed protesters, have been killed in the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Jacquier’s death, along with three suicide bombings in the capital of Damascus since Dec. 23, have added a new dimension to a conflict that already has brought the country to the verge of civil war.
“The journalists were attacked in a heavily militarized regime stronghold. It would be hugely difficult for any armed opposition to penetrate the area and launch such a deadly attack,” said Wissam Tarif, a campaigner for online global activist group Avaaz.
Syria has only recently started issuing short-term visas for a limited number of journalists, who must be accompanied by government minders. Local reporters work under heavy restrictions.
Jacquier was among a group of 15 journalists on the government trip when they were hit by the grenades; up to eight Syrian civilians also were reported killed.
The opposition called for protests in his honor, and activists said hundreds of people demonstrated across the country in cold and rainy weather, demanding al-Assad’s downfall.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to