Jordan’s Foreign Minister Visits Syria in First Trip Since War

An aerial view shows people walking near collapsed buildings following last week's earthquake in Syria's opposition-held village of Atarib, in the northwestern Aleppo province, on February 14, 2023. (AFP)
An aerial view shows people walking near collapsed buildings following last week's earthquake in Syria's opposition-held village of Atarib, in the northwestern Aleppo province, on February 14, 2023. (AFP)
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Jordan’s Foreign Minister Visits Syria in First Trip Since War

An aerial view shows people walking near collapsed buildings following last week's earthquake in Syria's opposition-held village of Atarib, in the northwestern Aleppo province, on February 14, 2023. (AFP)
An aerial view shows people walking near collapsed buildings following last week's earthquake in Syria's opposition-held village of Atarib, in the northwestern Aleppo province, on February 14, 2023. (AFP)

Jordan's foreign minister Ayman Safadi arrived in Damascus on Wednesday in the first such visit since the Syrian conflict and will later head to Türkiye to show "solidarity" after the quake, an official source said.

The visit will focus on humanitarian needs and how Jordan, a neighbor that hosts tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, can help in ongoing relief operations, the source said.

"Safadi will discuss the humanitarian and aid needs that the two countries need," a statement from the foreign ministry said, adding that aid planes will fly to both countries on Wednesday.

Jordan has sent large shipments of aid to both countries with the kingdom sending a medical hospital to Türkiye and organizing several large flights and aid convoys through the country's northern border crossing with Syria.

Relations between the neighbors have been strained in recent years.

Jordan has criticized Damascus for failing to curb multi-billion-dollar drug smuggling operations through its borders that Amman blames on Iranian-backed militias who hold sway in southern Syria.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.