Syria Meets 1st Deadline Destroying Chemical Weapons Sites

By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DAMASCUS, Syria-Syria has met a key deadline in the disarmament program, destroying all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities.  The next deadline is November 15, when the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Syria must agree to a detailed plan for destruction of the 1,000 metric tons of toxic chemicals.

OPCW investigates chemical weapons sites in Syria (photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

“Phase three will last to June 2014 and will involve United Nations mission support to monitor all destruction of 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.  The UN/OPCW has no mandate to destroy them so a UN member state will have to provide technical and operational support.

But also, we have to be a bit suspicious about the second phase as this is what Syria has declared, and see that other states will agree with Syria on the amount it said it has.  Other countries may have their own intelligence,” stated Omar Al Saleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera.

The OPCW has inspected and removed chemical equipment from 21 out of the 23 chemical weapons sites across Syria, with the other two sites being too dangerous to inspect and already having their equipment transferred.

Locations of the sites which were not inspected have not been specified, demonstrating the perils of operating in a war zone with multiple places being under siege and unpredictably shifting battle lines.

A spokesman for the OPCW, Michael Luhan, reported that one of the two uninspected sites was near Damascus.  It was also reported that eight inspectors returned to OPCW headquarters after spending a month in Damascus as part of an advanced team there on October 1st.

“Syria has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable,” said the OPCW.

While some experts favor the announcement as a milestone, others remain fearful as it has left Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in control of 1,290 tons of chemical weapons and an assortment of conventional weapons used during the country’s bloody civil war to kill over 100,000 people.

“The Assad regime continues to use artillery, air power and siege tactics against civilians, with thousands killed every month.  While the destruction of facilities is an important first milestone, it brings no relief to the Syrian people.  As winter approaches, the humanitarian situation grows more acute with millions left vulnerable,” stated the British Foreign Office.

It will remain to be seen whether Syria destroys all of its stockpiles by mid-2014. 

For more information, please see the following:

Al Jazeera-Syria chemical weapons facilities ‘destroyed’-31 October 2013

Guardian-Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities destroyed, says watchdog-31 October 2013

New York Times-Chemical Arms Inspectors Say Syria Has Destroyed All Declared Sites-31 October 2013

Reuters-Syria meets deadline to destroy chemical production facilities-31 October 2013

Saudi Writer Arrested for Supporting Women Drivers

By Thomas Murphy
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – On October 27, Saudi police arrested Tariq al-Mubarak, a columnist who criticized the country’s ban on women drivers.  The arrest followed an October 26 protest of the driving ban, during which at around sixty women got behind the wheel.

A Saudi Arabian woman starts her car and prepares drive despite the country’s outdated ban on female driving. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

On October 6, Tariq al-Mubarak wrote an opinion article that is titled “It’s Time to Change Women’s Place in the Arab World.”  The article, available here, supported women’s rights generally, but education, freedom to travel, and marriage were specifically mentioned as areas for reform.  Al-Mubarak, a young schoolteacher, is also a member of a core group that has supported the right of women to drive.

He was called to the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Department on Sunday on the pretext that a car was stolen.  However, when he arrived he was interrogated about his involvement in the “Women2Drive” campaign, the activist group behind the driving protest.  Human Rights Watch and local activists report that al-Mubarak remains in custody and does not have access to a lawyer or family.

The police have also fined and harassed some of the women that participated in the protest by driving.  Fines were typically around 300 Saudi riyals ($80 USD) and many of the women and their male guardians were forced to sign a pledge stating they would respect the laws in the future.  Days after the protest, police cars remained outside of the homes of some participants.

The activists responsible for the “Women2Drive” campaign have reportedly been followed over the last few days and are preparing for the possibility of arrest.  They have put contingency plans in place and have provided phone numbers to journalists and human rights organizations in the event they are arrested.

The activists called for women specifically with international driver’s licenses to take part in the October 26 protest.  The campaign began in 2011 and was started by Saudi women with goal having the ban on women drivers repealed.

Human Rights Watch has called for an end to the mistreatment of the activists associated with “Women2Drive” and announced their support of the group’s mission.

“Saudi authorities are retaliating against people who want a very basic right for women, the right to get behind the wheel and drive themselves where they want to go,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East director. “The authorities should end the driving ban and stop harassing people for supporting women’s rights.”

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Saudi writer held for backing women drivers – 30 October 2013

Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia: Free Journalist who Supported Women Driving – 30 October 2013

Reuters – Saudi women say they will keep pushing for right to drive – 28 October 2013

Guardian – Saudi Arabia’s women hold day of action to change driving laws – 25 October 2013

Latest Reports Indicate the U.S. Operated 80 “Listening Posts” Worldwide and Tapped Merkel’s Phone Starting in 2002

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More details have developed after the German magazine Spiegel reported last week that the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped into phone conversations on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a meeting of European Heads of State last week. (Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post)

Reports have indicated that the United States has been operating a global network of 80 “eavesdropping centers”, including 19 European listening posts in cities including Paris, Berlin, Rome and Madrid, according to the German magazine.

Spiegel said that the new details were based on American intelligence documents, leaked as a part of the Edward Snowden controversy. The magazine also reported that Angela Merkel has allegedly been listened to by the NSA since 2002, while she was a leader of the opposition party. She was allegedly under surveillance all the way up until U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June. Obama assured Merkel that her phone is not being and will not be listened to in the future, but U.S. officials have consistently declined to address reports of past surveillance.

Germany had already stated it would send a delegation to Washington D.C. to seek details of its own from the White House, even before the latest reports surfaced.

Spiegel has broken a series of stories about U.S. surveillance of its allies and neighbors from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

In the latest reports, Spiegel stated that the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency established the 80 worldwide listening posts under a joint unit established in the 1970’s. Several were based in the capitals of European allies, apparently operating out of U.S. embassies.

The report states that the United States ran two posts in Germany, one in the U.S. embassy in the Germany’s capital, Berlin, and another in Frankfurt. German counter-intelligence officials told the magazine that they would increase their monitoring of the U.S. embassy as a result.

According to an additional leaked U.S. memo last week, the U.S. sought to monitor the telephone numbers of 35 world leaders. Last week, the U.S. ambassadors in Paris and Berlin were both summoned for explanations and clarification regarding these reports by their host countries.

Reportedly the U.S. does not operate similar surveillance operations in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under intelligence-sharing agreements with those countries. The spying row prompted leaders meeting at a European Council summit to demand a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering.

For more information, please see: 

Fox News – Report Claims US Had Merkel’s Phone Monitored Since 2002 – 27 October 2013

Kyiv Post – US Bugged Merkel’s Phone From 2002 Until 2013, Report Claims – 27 October 2013

BBC News – US Bugged Merkel’s Phone From 2002 Until 2013, Report Claims – 26 October 2013

The Telegraph – US Operates 80 Listening Posts Worldwide, 19 in Europe, and Snooped on Merkel Mobile 2002-2013 – 26 October 2013



SNHR: Syria ……. When the Students and Teachers are Killed Together in Class

Documenting the shelling of Adnan Almalki school in Dier ez-Zoor

Date of incident: 20 October 2013

Prepared by SNHR

The methodology of this report is based on the investigations conducted by SNHR’s team in Dier ez-Zoor governorate, with a number of residents and activists.

It contains the testimonies of witnessing residents documented in the report, in addition to news and pictures from cooperative activists inside the city.

The incident’s details

On Sunday 20 October 2013, 9:30 am, Syrian government’s warplane, without any warning or real justification, shelled the Adnan Almalki school located in Alqusor neighborhood (under the control of government forces).  The school was shelled while students and teachers were inside.

Location map:,40.128635&num=1&t=h&z=17

Testimony of an eyewitness and survivor known as Abo Faisal:

You can communicate with the witness by Skype account:


” The massacre took place on Sunday 20/10/2013, at 9:30 am ”

The students were in school when the MIG shelled the school during the official school hours, the regime forces know that the school is working officially, there are only students there and noarmed manifestations ”

Alqusor neighborhood under the control of the regime, and the teachers are taking their wages from Minister of education

The warplane strike that targeted  the school directly led to kill four students and a teacher, and injured dozens of students”

Syrian Network for Human Rights’ director Fadel Abdulghani said: ” Syrian government always claims that they are fighting Al-Qaeda, extremists, and terrorism, but does shelling schools, markets and hospitals is for the same reason??!, They are sending message that they will prevent all forms of stability and life in all provinces that rebelled against Al-Assad regime, should mention it is not the first time that government forces shell school and commit systematically crime against humanity in many Syrian governorates”

SNHR’s team could document the killing of at least 4 victims: three children with their female teacher, while activist said that there were other three children couldn’t be recognized, we also document almost 15 injuries most of them were children.”

Shell led to damage great parts of Adnan Almalki school, and some parts of the neighboring Zaki Alarsozi school”


Name of the massacre victims:

1- Child Ahmad Rafea Alsara, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor

2- Girl child Ayah Ghassan Alhawas, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor

3- Miss Manal Alhaiji, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor, teacher

1- Child Husam Ahmad Alrabie, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor


Proofs and attachments:

Video shows the smoke caused by shelling

Photo of injured girl:



1. Syrian network for human rights emphasize that the shelling of the school was deliberately aimed at civilian targets, so the Shabieha and Government forces violated international human rights law that protects the right of life.  In addition, it was committed in a non-international armed conflict so it tantamount to war crimes and had all the elements.

2. SNHR considers the shelling of the school in Dier ez-Zoor accompanied by killing  a war crime.  This is not the first time, but it’s almost a daily event in all Syrian govern orates, so it follows a systematic and widespread methodology.

3-  Random attacks committed by the Syrian government are considered violations of customary IHL, because it shells populated areas, not specific military targets.

4- Those attacks, especially the shelling, caused losses in civilians lives, injury , or damaged civilian objects.  There are very strong indications to believe that damage was too excessive when compared with the expected  military benefit.

5.The size and repeated nature of the massacre, the level of excessive force used, in addition to the random nature of the shelling, and coordinating attacks cannot be but only supreme directives of a state policy.






Syrian Government

1-    Immediately stop all human rights’ violations.

2-    Respect international obligations of protection of civilians in times of war, and respect the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law


Human Rights Council:

1-    Demand the Security Council and the concerned international institutions to hold their responsibilities of what’s happening for the Syrian People of killing, rape, displacement, and arrest.

2-    Pressure the Syrian Government Troops to stop shelling and killing, and release all the kidnapped and arrested.

3-    Hold allies and supporters of the Syrian Government Troops: Russia, Iran, and China, morally and physically responsible for what’s happening to the Syrian people.

4-    Give this case serious attention and give it a high priority, and try to take care of victims’ families psychologically,  materially, and educationally.




Security Council :

1-    Decide to refer all the criminals and the involved to the ICC.

2-    Warn the Syrian Government Troops of the repercussions of using brutal methods on the stability of civil peace and coexistence between the people of the same society.

3-    Insert Syrian National Army, and Shabiha troops loyal to Syrian Government’s.




Arab League :

1-    Demand the Human Right’s Council and United Nations to give serious and right attention to stop the daily killing.

2-    Political and diplomatic pressure on the Syrian Government Troops ‘s main allies-Russia, Iran and China -to prevent them from continuously providing cover and international and political protection for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people and hold them morally and physically responsible for all the excess of the Syrian Government Troops.

3-    Serious attention of this case and give it a high priority, and try to take care of victim families psychologically, materially, and educationally.




 International Commission of Inquiry :

The International Commission of inquiry must stop describing the conflict in Syria as a conflict between two equal parties in crimes, power and centralized decision,  and give an accurate description of violations without alleviate for political purposes.

The committee must also increase its carders in Syria because of the magnitude of the daily crimes committed to enable requires wider and more comprehensive documentation.

SNHR: Starving to death ……………. Moadamyeh’s besiege of the Damascus countryside

Prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights

The report presents aspects of the besiege imposed by government forces on the town of Moadamyeh since 18 November 2013.  It also details how government forces have displaced, starved, and shelled civilians.

The report is based on six testimonies from Moadamyeh residents including a doctor, an eyewitnesses who saw or heard the government forces arrest relatives and then execute them.

This report has been prepared by SNHR  team in the Damascus countryside and logistics team outside Syria in cooperation with the residents and local activists in Moadamyeh.

Moadamyeh is located west of Damascus city in East Ghouta, and is administratively affiliated with the Darya district of  Damascus countryside.  The current population is 12,000 people.

The town is bounded to the North by three regiments of the 4th Division and from the South-East of the Palestinian organization’s camp of the regime’s army, from West officers’ housing, Saraya Al-Sira’ brigades and Yusuf al-‘Azma barracks of regime’s forces, and East Mezzeh military airport.

Location map:,36.19222&num=1&t=h&z=15

The siege began on 18 November 2012, when Government forces surrounded the city on all sides with military checkpoints and military armored vehicles, and surrounded the entrance of the city and main roads with about 20 checkpoints of 4th Division and Air Force Intelligence, backed by tanks t-72 and t-82, and ZSU-23-4 “Shilka.”

Testimony of Mahmoud Abo Ali resident in Moadamyeh:

“The city is suffering from scarcity of all food materials, medical, drugs, and fuel, in addition to the heavy and daily shelling on the city, the regime also used chemical weapons, the people of this city have been exposed to different type of death, even starvation, recently 7 children died as a result of hunger, adding to cut off electricity, water and connections.”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:


Testimony of Amir Almoadamani ,resident in Moadamyeh:

“Hospitals and Dispensaries are totally destroyed, almost 80% of schools and mosques are destroyed, and some razed to the ground, houses have not been spared of shelling, where 75% of the city has destroyed, hunger totally dominate the area, regime’s forces prevented the entry of food, medicines and fuel, tragedies in Moadamyeh greater than from being counted in numbers.”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:



Many Governments, senior United Nations officials, and human rights groups including Syrian Network for Human Rights call on the Syrian Government to grant humanitarian access to Qusayer during fighting in May and June/2013.  But the Security Council did not issue a statement on the right of access until the end of fighting because of Russian obstructionism.

The Syrian Government has rejected international calls for the evacuation of civilians and has refused to grant access to independent observers who were able to facilitate evacuation operations.

On 2 June, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that Syria will not grant the International Committee of the Red Cross access right of entrance until the end of hostilities.

The Syrian Government has blocked the entry of food, bread and flour, medicine, baby milk, and fuel, in a policy to starve the residents.  The so-called “people’s committees (militiamen)” prevent the entrance of United Nations assistance to the region, leading to the fully closure of markets.

Syrian Network for Human Rights’ director Fadel Abdulghani said: “Syrian regime carries out systematic starvation and impoverishment operations to push the residents to compare their conditions before they rise up against the Syrian regime and after, and which to return to their old conditions, where they used to eat and drink regardless tyranny, oppression, gagged, and humiliation of dignity, they do so in the areas that out of their control, as example price of bread bag is 20 Syrian Pound, while in Damascus countryside reach to 300 Syrian pound if any.”

SNHR documented the murder of 11 residents, including 10 children, who were deprived of food and medical supplies.  SNHR’s director said “They didn’t kill because of shelling or executions, but starved to death.”

The following link contain names, photos, and other victim’s details:



Testimony of Mr. Yasser who visited large number of families that left Moadamyeh told us:

” I visited large more than 8 families who could get out of Moadamyeh by the Red Crescent, and inquired about many things like military, service, medical , humanitarian, relief and even personal  subjects…

Dealing between people in Moadamyah is by barter, not sale and purchase, because there are no Currency in the city

There is no food in the city, people eat herbs, leaves of trees and plants

Of course people there are literally skeletons have souls, People dies cause of hunger, relief materials don’t reach the city because of the siege imposed by government forces.

There are no water, no electricity, no communications.

Most of the families lost many of their children.”

In addition to shutting off electricity, water, and connections in the city by Syrian Government, Government Forces also with its daily shelling use various types of weapons destroyed 60% of the residential buildings in full, shelling often targeted public facilities (hospitals, schools, mosques, and clinics).

In addition to shelling the city with chemical weapons on 21 August 2013.

Medical Situation:

All of the hospitals, dispensaries, and medical centers were shelled, and do not function anymore, except for two small medical centers with five doctors and 40 nurses, suffer from shortage in medical materials.  Because of this, some manufactured equipments meant to be used once, are used several times after sterilization, and this exacerbated  injured conditions, amputated infected parts, and stopped treating other wounded.

Testimony of Dr. Omar Alhakim, works in Moadamyeh medical centre:

“The city has been severely suppressed by the security forces and militiamen since the beginning of the peaceful protests, about 10 months after FSA fended off the regime’s forces repeated attempts to storm the town.  They imposed a severe siege, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated , where we suffer from running out the food supplies in the city; nothing lefts for the residents to eat only plants, the city is totally empty from food, there are approximately 12,000 civilians trapped since 10 months including 7 thousand children and women, Electricity cut off from 10 months, flour is missing from 7 months, dry bread missing from 5 months, and now all Foodstuffs run out.

In addition to losing the entire medical substances, treatment the injuries with primitive tools and materials intended for one use by using them for several times, Drugs are almost non-existent, and antibiotic medications are only given one pill to a patient in extreme necessity conditions, the city is now at the gates of a real humanitarian disaster ”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:



Educational status:

In Moadamyah 22 schools are closed, 15 of them are totally destroyed from shelling by government forces, the rest are extensively damaged.  They are out of service and cannot function anymore.

Photo of school on 1/3/2013

11 mosques in the city, large parts of them destroyed from shelling.

Photo of Omari mosque on 14/8/2013:

Initiative to bring out the civilians

On Saturday 16 October 2013, Red Cross members provided help to the residents to display from the city, Government forces warned the families that they should evacuate the city, because it was announced by the official media as military zone, during displacement and at the western entrance of the city, government forces targeted them by heavy artillery led to kill 1 victim and almost 20 injuries:

Victim: Ziad Shihabi, Moadamyah of Damascus countryside:

Testimony of  media activist Murad Alshami, who was present while trying to evacuate the civilians:

You can communicate with the witness by Skype account:


“The city of Moadamyah have been besieged since the beginning of Daria battle, because of the very important location of the city, as it is between Mezzah military airport and Sumarieah housing and Eastern neighborhood, officers’ housing, Saraya Al-Sira’ brigades and Yusuf al-‘Azma suburb, 4th Division and their housings and regiment 100.

Moadamyah is military zone, there is no entrance or exist way since the beginning of Daria battle.

That’s mean there is no military barrier for inspection or otherwise…. snipers at all entrance, transit from and to the city is forbidden … that’s mean its prison anyone try to get out  immediately sniped, and targeted by Shilka armored , heavy machine guns, thermal scope snipers, and Alwite People’s committee barriers.

From four months ago, we have identified more than 10 dates for getting out the civilians with United Nation Commission.

There were many connections with Red Cross, where they pledged to enter the aids, but they didn’t enter foods or unwind siege.

Red cross and ministry of national reconciliation intervened in one thing which is city evacuation

Nun Fadia Allaham entered the city and asked for guarantees, I was one of those who helped her and secured her, as she can take out whomever she wants, we told her to act as she wants.

First day 13/10/2013, about 1000 civilians came out, the next day almost 2000 civilians gathered , but only 500 of them could leave and they told the rest for tomorrow .

when the people gathered, Fadia and her friends arrived, she told us that she prepared buses for men to go out not just women, they told her continue with children and women temporarily

After a while, almost 10 minutes, shelling on Free Syrian Army barriers, which was almost 200 miters away from regime’s barriers ,was started, then shelling on civilians who were trapped in the middle, victims were from FSA then women and children.

Thousands of civilians were trapped in the city.”
Testimony of one of the displaced, where she was there during the shelling, and refused to disclose her identity

“First thing the agreement became between day and night, no one knew about it ..

who arrange the agreement is two persons of Moadamyah ( Samir and Ali Ghandour ), for sure they lived outside Moadamyah, but they found that this is the best solution, the mediation between the regime and Moadamyah’s residents were Red Cross and Nun Fadia Allaham.

Indeed the first three days, many civilians have been evacuated

good number of them

who get out alone survived, but those who rode regime’s buses , they prevent them to get out the places where they kept them until they have someone out of Moadamyah to sign guarantee for them, ( that’s mean if he/she has someone to ensure they will let him out, if not he/she will stay )

When people get out of Moadamyah, security forces checked the ID’s to see if they have their names or not, many detention cases took place.

Of course who get out not only from Moadamyah, also from Daria

next day almost 3000 civilians tried to go out, and gathered at buses point.

Then shelling from 4th division started on this area, they were in, which is near Asia factories at Jdidt Artouz side ( the west side of the city ) , particularly Arbaeen highway.

First, the regime shelled by one mortar, amost 50 meter far away from civilians.

Team of Red Cross and Nun withdrew directly.

after their withdrawal, artillery shelling on civilians started, many of them fell between victims and injuries

Free Syrian Army intervened, and tried to evacuate civilians, ambulance injuries, and take victims.

Clashes between FSA and regime’s forces that tried to take civilians as humans shields, the civilians already are humans shields in this area, because it is occupied by the regime…

Two of the government forces were dead, and five get injured

FSA eventually could move civilians of Daria and Moadamyah to inside of Moadamyah via fields

Fields area usually one of the most targeted areas, because usually FSA holed there.

That’s mean they back again to worse besiege, shelling was continuing in that moment very badly.

Who went out by his car alone, he could get his relatives, people who went with regime, they took them to a school in Qudsia suburb.”



Video shows civilians, children and women, used as human shields in Moadamyah during their displacement:

Video shows injuries from shelling civilians gathering’s point during their displacement with Red Cross:

Video shows shelling on displacements gathering point:


Government forces imposed a severe besiege on these villages, which makes it extremely difficult to provide medical and food supplies, and deprived hundreds of families who now must leave and move to safe areas.  This is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law governing conflict in Syria, where they should allow the provision ofof food and medicine, and if there is a need to take the approval from the Syrian Government and also allow them to carry out inspections of those convoys, but it is illegal to prevent these convoys abusively as they are now, and are considered as a form of collective punishment of the civilians.  Here, the international community must intervene urgently to provide humanitarian relief in Moadamyah and save them from being starved to death.

Exert real pressure on the Syrian Government to give all medical and food aids and to allow civilians to leave.  They should pressure the Syrian Government to obey them and hand over its stock of chemical weapons under threat of force.