Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WAR REPORT
Syria opposition meets in Riyadh under pressure to compromise
By Anuj Chopra with Layal Abou Rahal in Beirut
Riyadh (AFP) Nov 22, 2017


Foreigners held or missing in Syria
Beirut (AFP) Nov 22, 2017 - The capture by Iraqi and Syrian forces of the Islamic State group's last bastions failed to clarify the fate of several foreign hostages thought to have been kidnapped by jihadists.

The Syrian city of Raqa, which US-backed forces retook in mid-October, was the group's inner sanctum and where many of the kidnapped foreigners were sequestered.

Following is what we know about John Cantlie, a British journalist who was kidnapped by IS five years ago on Wednesday, and about other foreigners still believed held or missing in Syria:

JOHN CANTLIE

British journalist John Cantlie was detained by the Islamic State group on November 22, 2012.

He was kidnapped along with US reporter James Foley, who became the first of a string of foreign hostages to be slain in gruesome propaganda videos.

Cantlie however appeared in several subsequent videos released by IS in which he delivered jihadist propaganda to the camera in the style of a news report.

His last appearance was during the battle for Mosul late last year. He looked very gaunt and tired.

His current whereabouts are unknown and Cantlie's family have chosen discretion as a way of increasing his chances of survival.

GRIGORY TSURKANU AND ROMAN ZABOLOTNY

The pair, believed to be Russians, were captured in September or early October iDeir Ezzor province in eastern Syria.

Moscow never confirmed the identity of the two men, who appeared in an IS propaganda video. A Cossack group identified them as two veterans from southern Russia in their late thirties.

Some Russian media reports said they were mercenaries for a shadowy outfit called Wagner which has been sending ex-servicemen to fight alongside Syrian regime forces.

A Russian newspaper said they were executed but their deaths were never confirmed.

SKY NEWS TEAM

Mauritanian national Ishak Moctar and Lebanese national Samir Kassab went missing on October 15, 2013, along with their Syrian driver, near the northern city of Aleppo.

They were believed held by IS but their fate was never confirmed and they are still considered missing. The pair were believed to still be alive in 2016 and held in Raqa.

JUMPEI YASUDA

Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda is thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra Front jihadist group, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria in 2015.

Tokyo describes him as missing. A picture of him holding a piece of paper that read "Help me, this is the last chance" was released in mid-2016 and deemed authentic.

AUSTIN TICE

The 36-year-old American journalist was kidnapped in Syria in August 2012 by unidentified armed men after reporting south of Damascus.

His kidnapping was never claimed by any organisation but his family says it has reason to believe the Texan reporter is still alive.

PAOLO DALL'OGLIO

The Jesuit priest known to most as Father Paolo was a well-known figure in Syria, where he lived for years in the 6th century Deir Mar Musa monastery that he renovated, north of Damascus.

He was exiled from Syria in 2012 for meeting with members of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's regime and kidnapped by the Islamic State group near Raqa when he returned the following year.

He was reported to have been executed and his body dumped in a crevice soon after but his death was never confirmed by any party.

burs-jmm/kir

Syrian opposition figures met in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a bid to form an overhauled delegation to peace talks that analysts say may be more willing to compromise on key demands.

The meeting came as Iran, Russia and Turkey held a summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, pressing their diplomatic dash to resolve Syria's six-year conflict with a new round of UN-brokered peace talks set to open in Geneva next Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani had agreed to a "congress" of Syrian regime and opposition forces in Sochi, aimed at boosting the Geneva process.

The Riyadh meeting was co-chaired by the UN's Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who said the aim was to reach a "fair solution" to the conflict.

De Mistura said the goal was to give momentum to next week's talks in Geneva by forging a unified opposition delegation, as long demanded by the Syrian government.

He said he would travel to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian officials.

"I'm always optimistic... especially in this moment," he said.

The 140 or so delegates from a wide range of opposition platforms are under heavy pressure to row back on some of their more radical demands after a series of recent battlefield victories that have given President Bashar al-Assad's regime the upper hand.

Absent are several former leading figures who were seen as unwilling to compromise.

Among them is Riad Hijab, who stepped down as leader of the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) ahead of the meeting complaining that there were "attempts to lower the ceiling of the revolution and prolong the regime".

Multiple rounds of talks hosted by the UN have failed to bring an end to the war in Syria, which has killed more than 330,000 people since 2011 and forced millions from their homes.

Factions opposed to Assad have been plagued by divisions throughout the maelstrom.

Participants in the Riyadh meeting include members of the Istanbul-based National Coalition as well as of rival Cairo- and Moscow-based groups seen as more favourable to the regime, and independent figures.

Qadri Jamil, who heads the Moscow-based group, on Wednesday announced he would not be attending the talks, citing what he said was the Syrian opposition's inability to agree on "the bases and principles" of their stance at the Saudi summit.

The National Coalition meanwhile said Jamil had pulled out after "disagreement over an article on Bashar al-Assad stepping down and the start of a transitional phase" in Syria.

- Forming 'the right opposition' -

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he expected that the withdrawal of Hijab and other hardliners in recent days would "help the Syria-based and foreign-based opposition unite on a constructive basis".

Observers said it could clear the way for a new negotiating team that would water down some of the opposition's longstanding demands, notably Assad's immediate ouster.

His fate has been one of the chief obstacles to progress in peace talks, with the opposition demanding he step down at the start of any transition.

"The Saudi pitch to the Syrian opposition has been that denial will only make the situation worse, and that they have to rethink their strategy," said Hassan Hassan, a fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.

"The problem... is that the political opposition does not see it that way, and most activists are still struck in the 2012 thinking, that Assad has to be toppled."

Ahead of the meeting, dozens of prominent civilian and armed opposition figures appealed to participants not to compromise on the "ouster of Bashar al-Assad and his gang".

"No one should back down or quietly circumvent" it, they said in an online statement.

HNC member Yehya al-Aridi acknowledged some participants, notably the Moscow platform, were more flexible on the president's future.

But they "do not represent the choices of the revolution or the Syrian people," Aridi told AFP.

And Hisham Marwah, another National Coalition member, said his group's "positions toward Assad have not changed".

"Whoever is betting on the Riyadh conference to legitimise the presence of Assad is delusional," Marwah told AFP.

ac-lar-mjg-ny/hc

WAR REPORT
Syria opposition meets in Riyadh under pressure to compromise
Beirut (AFP) Nov 22, 2017
Syrian opposition figures will gather in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to form an overhauled delegation to peace talks that analysts expect will be more willing to compromise on key demands. The meeting comes as Turkey, Iran, and Russia hold top-level talks in the Black Sea resort city Sochi, pressing their diplomatic dash to resolve Syria's six-year conflict. Multiple rounds of talks hosted ... read more

Related Links
Space War News


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

WAR REPORT
Russia test-fires new interceptor missile

US Scrambles to Assemble Space-Based Missile Defense System

Boeing meets 2017 ballistic missile defense installation goal early

Sweden picks US Patriot missile system over European rival

WAR REPORT
State Dept. approves potential Javelin missile sale to Georgia

State Dept. approves potential missile sale to Poland

Raytheon awarded contract for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile program

Lockheed Martin to test AGM-158 JASSM

WAR REPORT
Pentagon steps up Somalia drone strikes

Lockheed Martin Integrates New Engine for Fury Unmanned Air Vehicle

Alpha Unmanned Systems teams with Sightec for image stabilization and object tracking.

Leonardo delivers Falco EVO drones to Middle East

WAR REPORT
US Navy accepts 5th MUOS Satellite for global military cellular network

SES GS Awarded US Government Satellite Solutions Contract

16th SPCS Defenders of critical satellite communications

First order for Elta ELK-1882T SATCOM network system

WAR REPORT
Marines roll out new anti-tank weapon system

Saab to supply South African forces with field kitchens

Raytheon, Saab to develop improved shoulder-launched weapon systems

MBDA Inc. to produce parts for Small Diameter Bomb

WAR REPORT
Greek government faces questions over botched Saudi arms sale

Congress sends $700 bn defense bill for Trump's signature

Lockheed, Navantia renew collaborative agreement

Philippines' Duterte receives Russian assault rifles

WAR REPORT
Australia calls for US engagement in region amid China rise

From Myanmar to Zimbabwe, China's global footprint grows

China forges 'strategic' ties with Djibouti after opening base

Forbidden City and Vatican try 'art diplomacy'

WAR REPORT
Ceria nanoparticles: It is the surface that matters

Semiconducting carbon nanotubes can reduce noise in interconnects

Manganese dioxide shows potential in micromotors

Promising sensors for submarines, mines and spacecraft




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement