Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki described on Tuesday President Donald Trump’s decision to halt U.S. funding for the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as an attack on international law. “The U.S. administration has begun to attack the rights of the Palestinian people and international law,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, convened to discuss the issue.
Chased out of their own homelands and targeted in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, experienced foreign jihadists embraced Syria's war as their own starting around 2013, two years into the conflict.
Many joined the Islamic State group but others stuck by Al-Qaeda and its former Syrian affiliate -- which now leads the powerful Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance dominating Idlib.
“We have been notified by a US official of their decision to close the Palestinian mission to the US,” Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary-general Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
“This is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education.”
A statement from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the latest aid cut was part of a U.S. attempt “to liquidate the Palestinian cause” and said it would threaten the lives of thousands of Palestinians and the livelihoods of thousands of hospital employees.
“This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people,” it said.
The former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, writes in his soon-to-be-published memoirs that when he was head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2010 he met with Bashar al-Assad and received a “personal message” from him to US President, Barack Obama, that included his readiness to fully recognize Israel and to open embassies in Damascus and Tel Aviv.
Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded towns in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province on Saturday, a day after a summit of the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Russian-backed offensive. Witnesses and rescuers said at least a dozen air strikes hit a string of villages and towns in southern Idlib and the town of Latamneh in northern Hama, where rebels are still in control.
The United States constantly sends messages to Iran to begin negotiations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday in a speech broadcast on state television. “From one side they try to pressure the people of Iran, on another side they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together,” Rouhani said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a ceasefire in the rebel-held region of Idlib in northwest Syria on Friday and said an anticipated government assault on insurgents there could result in a massacre. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.
United Nations-mediated peace talks on Yemen appeared to be in jeopardy on Thursday with no sign in Geneva of the delegation from the Houthi movement on the first day. Martin Griffiths, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen conceded there were “challenges” in bringing the parties together in the Swiss city, but still wanted to see the delegation from the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa arrive.
Early in the conflict, fighting splintered Syria into a complex patchwork of areas held by rival groups, but fighting in recent years has simplified the frontlines and the country is now split into only a few zones of control. At its weakest point in 2015, the President Bashar al-Assad’s government held less than a fifth of Syria. But since Russia entered the war on its side, it has reclaimed huge swathes of Syria.