Connect with us

World

World News: Syria – Millions in need of aid as winter sets in

Published

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Thousands flee Syria in exodus, millions more in need of aid
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Thousands of Syrians fled their country yesterday in one of the biggest refugee exoduses of the 20-month civil war after rebels seized a border town, and the United Nations warned that millions more still in Syria will need help as winter sets in.

In Qatar, the main opposition group outside Syria elected a new leader. However, it will start talks today with other factions, including representatives of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, on forming a wider body that hopes to gain international recognition as a government-in-waiting.

The U.N. said 11,000 refugees had fled in 24 hours, mostly to Turkey. The influx caused alarm in Ankara, which is worried about its ability to cope with such large numbers and has pushed hard, so far without success, for a buffer zone to be set up inside Syria where refugees could be housed.

Rebels overran the frontier town of Ras al-Ain late on Thursday, continuing a drive that has already seen them push Assad’s troops from much of the north and seize several crossing points, a rebel commander and opposition sources said.

“The crossing is important because it opens another line to Turkey, where we can send the wounded and get supplies,” said Khaled al-Walid, a commander in the Raqqa rebel division.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that compiles opposition activist reports, said at least 20 members of the Syrian security forces were killed when rebel fighters attacked a security headquarters in Ras al-Ain.

Thousands of residents poured out of the Arab and Kurd town, in the north-eastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, 600 km (375 miles) from Damascus.

The Syrian National Council, the main opposition body outside the country, elected veteran activist George Sabra as its new head in Doha on Friday.

Sabra, a Christian, takes over a body that is under heavy criticism from international allies for being ineffective in the fight against Assad and for being driven by personal disputes.

Sabra appealed for arms to fight Assad’s forces. “We need only one thing to support our right to survive and to protect ourselves: we need weapons, we need weapons,” he told reporters.

Qatar, the United States and other powers are pressing the fractious Syrian opposition groups to come together and the SNC has agreed to open unity talks, although it fears its influence will be diluted in any new body.

Western countries and Syria’s neighbours fear that hardline Islamist groups close to al Qaeda are growing in influence among rebels on the ground in Syria.

An outline agreement could see the SNC and other opposition figures agree on a 60-member political assembly, mirroring the Transitional National Council in Libya, which united opposition to Muammar Gaddafi last year and took power when he fell.

In Geneva, a senior U.N. official highlighted the plight of Syrians still in the country. An estimated four million people would need humanitarian aid by early next year when the country is in the grip of winter, up from 2.5 million now, said John Ging, director of operations at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Every day our humanitarian colleagues on the ground are engaging with people who are ever more desperate, ever more fearful for their lives and for the lives of their families because of this conflict,” Ging told a news conference. “Since this crisis has begun we have not been able to keep pace with the increasing need.”

The latest flight of refugees raised the total recorded by the U.N. to over 408,000 in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and North Africa.

Turkey hits out
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hit out at world powers on the U.N. Security Council over their inaction.

“It is very strange. There are currently atrocities being committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a state leader,” he said. “How far will this go? When will the permanent members of the Security Council take responsibility?”

Turkey has responded in kind to mortar shells hitting its soil from fighting in Syria and is discussing with NATO allies whether to deploy Patriot air defence missiles on the border.

The Turkish state-run Anatolian news agency reported that 26 Syrian military officers had also arrived in Turkey with their families overnight in what it called the biggest mass desertion of senior soldiers from Assad’s forces in months.

Advancing rebels fired mortars at the presidential palace in Damascus this week. Residents in the capital said security was being beefed up there. Assad told Russia Today television on Thursday he would “live and die in Syria”, echoing words of other Arab leaders before they lost power last year.

In the last three months, the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels have captured outposts on the Turkish border, moving towards the north-eastern heartland of Syria’s one million Kurds, many of whom have tried to stay clear of violence.

The Kurdish Council, a coalition of Kurdish parties opposed to Assad, called on rebels to pull their fighters out of Ras al-Ain, saying the clashes and fear of Syrian bombardment had prompted most of its 50,000 residents to flee.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Road deaths11 hours ago

‘Drowsy’ driver crashes van, killing 3 Laotian workers

Thailand11 hours ago

Is the dream over? China walks back Belt & Road ambitions

Politics12 hours ago

Prasert levels 6-billion corruption accusations at Prayut

Sponsored14 hours ago

Segafredo Zanetti Coffee teamed up with Bangkok Airways and hosted “Bangkok Airways Surf Festival 2022”

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Baht plunges to 38 against USD for the first time in 16 years

Phuket13 hours ago

Phuket dwellers honour 10th Lunar Month

Thailand13 hours ago

Thai govt owes 100 million baht to hospitality industry

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand14 hours ago

BMA reveals Bangkok druggies buy yaba online 

Phuket14 hours ago

Delivery driver & customer brawl over payment in Phuket

Transport14 hours ago

Thai Airways flying high at Skytrax Awards

Thailand14 hours ago

Soi Dog Foundation steps up fight against rabies and dog meat trade in Vietnam

Visa14 hours ago

Thailand to extend Smart Visa scheme to draw talent

Cannabis15 hours ago

Can I take cannabis on domestic flights in Thailand?

Thailand15 hours ago

Thailand pays 3.8 billion baht for first train hub in hospital

Transport16 hours ago

Bomb scare on flight from San Francisco to Singapore

South16 hours ago

English teacher’s body found in South Thailand

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending