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On Syria, Airdrops In Deir ez-Zor, Blankets, For de Mistura Press Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 24 -- When the UN pulled the plug on the Intra-Syrian Talks, or as envoy Staffan de Mistura said merely pushed them back, de Mistura said that the UN "is not prepared to hold talks for the sake of talks."

  Now de Mistura is scheduled after delay to brief the Security Council on Friday, February 26 at 3 pm. It seems Inner City Press will have to cover it, as it did UN Relief Chief Stephen O'Brien's speech on air drops to Deir ez-Zor, from the park across First Avenue from the UN, having been ousted from the UN on two hours notice, petition here.

  Virtually the only thing the scribes at UN Spokesman Stephan Dujarric's Coffee Klatch briefing on February 24 asked was about air-drops to Deir ez-Zor (which Dujarric outrageously refused to admit is controlled by ISIS or Daesh). So we'll cover UNRWA and its blankets, or the thermal blankets of those UNRWA serves:

"Today, Wednesday 24 February, UNRWA concluded the distribution of thermal blankets after four consecutive days of operation in the Damascus suburb of Yalda. We provided 5,000 blankets to an additional estimated 1,160 Palestine refugee and other civilian families from the besieged and hard to reach communities of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham.
A total of 19,160 blankets have been distributed to approximately 5,700 families since the distribution operation started on Sunday 21 February.
UNRWA was able to resume operations in Yalda on February 14 for the first time in over six months, distributing 5,700 food parcels to families from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham over a 5-day operation. UNRWA seeks to bring a mobile health team in the coming week, to provide much-needed basic primary healthcare to civilians from the area."

  The above from UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness.

 On February 19, Russia convened a UN Security Council meeting and proposed a draft resolution on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. Western powers, as they're called, were dismissive the draft.

  Here's some of what Turkey's Permanent Representative said, as fast transcribed by

"The fighting, it’s not only bombing militarily, hospitals, schools, medical facilities, are being bombed, after the Russian Federation’s intervention in the war, the majority of the civilian casualties are caused by this intervention. So it is, the resolution is there, so why do we need another resolution in that regard? When I see the text I found it... silent on the humanitarian issue.

 "For us, any terrorist organization is a terrorist organization, full stop. For PYD they seem to try to get legitimacy by seeming fighting with Daesh. Actually this is not the case... For us, fighting against another terrorist organization does not give legitimacy to any terrorist organization."

 Here is what US Ambassador Samantha Power said, as transcribed by the US Mission - which is aware of the UN trying to eject investigative Inner City Press for covering a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room, UN letter here:

"Quick comment in my own right, which is that what’s really important is that rather than trying to distract the world with the resolution they just laid down, it would be really great if Russia would implement the resolution it’s already agreed to. We have Resolution 2254, we all came together in the Council before the end of the year, we all united around its provisions, and our emphasis should be on implementation.
Right now, we have a bombing campaign in the northern part of Syria that is hitting hospitals, that has caused mass displacement, more than 70,000 people gathering now at the border – huge suffering. We need to focus on implementing 2254. It’s incredibly important that there’s de-escalation, that all parties use restraint and show restraint.
But this is a distraction from the core fact, which is that 2254 needs to be implemented. We have a resolution on the books. It’s the right resolution. We’ve committed ourselves to it, and we need Russia to do the same."

 Inner City Press -- in the middle of being thrown out of the UN for seeking to covering meetings in the building, click here for that -- talked its way through a UN Security block at the Council stakeout and asked Turkey's Permanent Representative Cevic if his country would send in ground troops. He said only if part of a multinational force.

  Also at the stakeout - with a UN Security "minder" still trailing Inner City Press, like one of Ban Ki-moon's thought police as one wag put it -- Inner City Press asked the President of the Council for February, Venezuela's Rafael Ramirez, if he would convene and emergency meeting if Turkey or Saudi Arabia were to send in ground troops. He said yes, he would convene such a meeting.

  But as things stands, even with Ban Ki-moon's censor Cristina Gallach receiving calls to delay and reverse her decision, Inner City Press could not cover such an emergency Security Council meeting.

  We'll have more on all this.

 On February 16, Inner City Press asked Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari about de Mistura's and Ban Ki-moon's explanations of why those talks ended - and about the UN saying Ban was misquoted in or misinterpreted by the Financial Times.

  Ja'afari said that the UN would rather blame itself than the opposition, because then the UN would get push-back from “Westerners.” Ja'afari said that de Mistura's deputy only provided him with a partial list of the opposition delegations as the talks were ending. Ja'afari called them badly organized.

  Before Ja'afari spoke, the Security Council's president for February Rafael Ramirez of Venezuela told reporters that the Council's members agreed to tell Turkey to comply with international law. Associated Press - click here for AP's UN rape reporting on Feb 15 - asked if that meant all members.  All to different degrees, was the answer.


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