Omantribune
Oman Tribune
Omantribune
Omantribune Search News
Web Oman
    Google Search Button
      Tribune
- Oman
- Soccer World Cup
- Other Top Stories
- Middle East
- Business
- Sports
- India
- Pakistan
- Asia
- Europe
- Americas
- Columnists
- Editorial
- Oman Mirror
- Special Features
- Cinema
- PDF Pages
- Weather
- Travel
- Currency Rate
- Hospitals
- Pharmacies
- Services
- Flight Timings
- Museum Timings
Omantribune Home Omantribune About Us Omantribune Advertising Information Omantribune Archives Omantribune Subscribe-Form Omantribune Jobs Omantribune Contact Us
Sunday, December 21, 2014  

Damascus meeting calls for peaceful transition
DAMASCUS Members of Syria’s internal opposition held a rare meeting in Damascus on Sunday to call for a peaceful end to President Bashar Al Assad’s rule and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi expressed hope that an upcoming UN General Assembly summit will help improve the humanitarian situation in the country.

The rebels’ meeting came amidst air strikes by the government troops on rebel bastions across the country, especially in the central province of Homs and Deir Ezzor in the east, a monitoring group said.

In another development, the Free Syrian Army said it now controls most of the war-torn country, as Syrian Christian opposition leader George Sabra told Pope Benedict XVI that the survival of the Damascus government poses a threat to the country’s Christians, the Syrian National Council said.

The opposition meeting in the Syria capital went ahead with the blessing of authorities despite the arrest of several opposition figures in recent days and accusations from rebel forces that it gave a false signal that Assad is seeking a political solution to Syria’s crisis.     

Rajaa Nasser, one of the organisers of the Syria Salvation Conference, called for “an immediate halt to the shooting, a halt to the brutal and barbaric shelling, a truce and a pause for the fighters.”  

Such a truce could “open the way for a political process ... which guarantees a radical political change, an end to the current regime and a serious and genuine democracy,” Nasser told the meeting organised by the internal opposition’s main umbrella group, the National Coordination Body.  

Activists say 27,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against Assad erupted in March last year, most of them in the last few months as the uprising turned into a violent insurgency.  

Western countries, reluctant to intervene militarily, have called for the president to step aside but their pressure for UN sanctions against Damascus has been blocked by Russia and China, whose envoys both attended Sunday’s meeting.  

“The main goal now is to put an immediate end to the violence in Syria, whether from the government side or the armed groups,” Russia’s ambassador Azamat Kulmukhametov said.   

“The other goal is no less important, to convert the current confrontation ... into a peaceful political solution.”  

Members of the internal opposition, which includes outspoken critics of Assad who have spent years in jail, said Moscow and Beijing promised to exert influence to protect Sunday’s meeting. 

The internal opposition has been accused of being too passive by rebel fighters and members of the largely foreign-based Syrian National Council, a political group calling for the international community to arm rebel factions.  

In a statement released after the meeting, the United Nations said Ban and Brahimi focused on how to address what they called “the appalling levels of violence in Syria.” 

They also examined ways to progress towards an inclusive political solution that will meet the legitimate demands of the Syrian people.  

“They agreed that the worsening crisis in Syria represents a steadily increasing threat to regional peace and security,” the statement said. 

Ban and Brahimi also discussed the importance of the presence of world leaders at the United Nations in the coming days as an opportunity to encourage increased support for addressing the grave humanitarian crisis in Syria, the United Nations said.

At least 40 people were killed on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as Syrian aircraft carried out strikes on rebel bastions, especially in central Homs province and Deir Ezzor in the east.

Apartment blocks in Albu Kamal, a town in Deir Ezzor province, were targeted as rebels and soldiers battled on the ground in several districts of the town on the Iraqi border.

“The insurgents are trying to wrest control of this strategic town” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. Losing Albu Kamal would be “a deadly blow for the government,” he added.

Troops pounded rebel-held areas in and around Damascus, in the second city Aleppo in the north, neighbouring Idlib, the central cities of Hama and Homs, and Daraa.

The group said warplanes also raided Jebel Al Akrad in Latakia.  In Aleppo, rebels destroyed two fighter planes on the ground in Orm, a rebel  said.

Assad’s only sister, Bushra, whose husband was killed in a July bombing, is now living in Dubai with her children, Syrian residents said on Sunday. Ayman Abdel Nour, editor-in-chief of opposition news website all4syria.com, said Bushra left after “differences” with her brother whose troops are locked in a conflict with rebels.

Agencies
NEWS UPDATES
Oman
Fisheries, tourism sectors can help diversify income sources
Ministry, GAC sign agreement to train 37 Omanis
Seeb market has something for every shopper
School photo expo pays tribute to His Majesty
Large shipping vessel docks at Salalah port
Other Top Stories
Kenyatta signs new anti-terror bill into law
Iraqi Kurds, allied forces continue Sinjar offensive
Rebels who tried to flee executed
TTP leader warns of more attacks in Pakistan
Israeli jets strike Gaza targets
India
76pc cast vote in Kashmir despite chilly weather
Shah, Bhagwat pitch for law to ban conversions
Exit polls project BJP victory in Jharkhand, hung assembly in J&K
Jaitley seeks opposition help to enact reforms, revive economy
KPCC chief draws ire over statement on liquor policy
Charger ‘not cellphone part’
BJP tirade against Vadra flayed
LeT receives adequate funds despite sanctions, Delhi tells UN
Court slaps Rs10,000 fine on Gadkari in defamation case
Devyani stripped of duties over statements
Verma sworn in as US ambassador
TN to account for 8pc of cancer cases by 2016
Pakistan
Nawaz talks tough, vows to eliminate threat of militancy
Two militants hanged as 6-year executions moratorium lifted
US grants $1b for defence expenses
Lal Masjid protests heat up, case filed against Aziz
Lakhvi detained again for 30 days
Country wins Cern associate membership
Middle East
Oil crisis tests Iran support for Syria
Fitch raises Egypt credit rating to ‘B’ with ‘stable’ outlook
UN tells Israel to pay Lebanon $856m for oil spill
S. Sudan rebels accused of killing, raping civilians
Asia
N. Korea calls for joint probe with US into Sony hack
Australian mother arrested for murder of eight children
UN, Taliban hold talks to limit civilian casualties
Xi asks HK, Macau to adhere to ‘one China’ principle amid protests
Philippines jail officials in fix over drug lords’ VIP treatment
Kin back plea to expel HIV-positive boy
Business
Sovereign fund sees value of MSM shares attractive
MSM caps losses over rebound in crude oil prices
Private deposits at commercial banks pick up 14% till Oct.
Cyberattack could cost Sony dear
Fitch keeps outlook stable for GCC banks
Flipkart mops up $700m to fund expansion
SpiceJet rescue plan a bold bet on aviation
Ramp up public spending to revive India growth, says Subramanian
Vistara to take off on Jan. 9
ECB sees inflation turning negative over oil price slide
BlackBerry, Boeing team up to make self-destructing phone
EU moves WTO over US subsidies to Boeing
Japan’s Idemitsu looks to take over Showa Shell for $4b
Europe
US imposes curbs on Crimea ahead of Ukraine talks
Court issues arrest warrant for Gulen
Renzi wins confidence vote to pass budget
Financial fraud hits Franciscan Order
Plan to build London Garden Bridge over Thames gets nod
Sports
India doomed by magic Johnson spell
Dhoni blames dressing room unrest on Dhawan
Faris clinches double on debut
West Indies’ frailties exposed by Steyn
Bayern set more records in Germany
Saina, Srikanth sent packing
Spurs handed second triple OT loss in row
Accolades pour in for Bryant
OTA honours elite players, officials of 2014
Ecclestone sued for $423m by German bank
Waqar seeks improvement, Williamson hails feat
Kolkata lift inaugural ISL crown
Messi and Suarez score as Barcelona rout Cordoba
Silva gives strikerless City win over Palace
Morgan replaces Cook as World Cup captain
Americas
US repatriates 4 Gitmo detainees to Afghanistan
US sees limited options to punish N. Korea over Sony cyberattack
Obama vows tough action, seeks global help to check cyberattacks
Cuban House ratifies deal to normalise ties with US
Tsarnaev friend faces gun charge
Obama in ‘I’m-not-done-yet’ attitude as year ends

Sports


International

© 2013 Oman Tribune. All rights reserved. Best viewed in 800 X 600 resolution