Amman Meeting Discusses Return of Syrian Refugees from Neighboring Countries

The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, Iraq Fouad Hussein, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Jordan Ayman Safadi, and Syria Faisal Mekdad, during the meeting in Amman (AFP)
The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, Iraq Fouad Hussein, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Jordan Ayman Safadi, and Syria Faisal Mekdad, during the meeting in Amman (AFP)
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Amman Meeting Discusses Return of Syrian Refugees from Neighboring Countries

The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, Iraq Fouad Hussein, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Jordan Ayman Safadi, and Syria Faisal Mekdad, during the meeting in Amman (AFP)
The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, Iraq Fouad Hussein, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Jordan Ayman Safadi, and Syria Faisal Mekdad, during the meeting in Amman (AFP)

A new consultative meeting on Syria, held Monday in Amman, discussed the return of Syrian refugees from neighboring countries and methods for the Syrian state to extend its control over its territory.

The meeting included Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, Iraq, Fouad Hussein, Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, Jordan, Ayman Safadi, and Syria, Faisal Mekdad.

The Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, confirmed that the meeting marks the beginning of a series of meetings to resolve the crisis in Syria in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, addressing all consequences of the humanitarian, political, and security situation.

Safadi stressed that the priority of ending the crisis is only through a political solution that preserves Syria's unity, cohesion, and sovereignty, meets the aspirations of its people, and contributes to the promotion of conditions conducive to the voluntary and safe return of refugees, the departure of all illegal foreign forces from Syria, realizing national interests and the restoration of Syria's security, stability, and role.

The FM stressed it was up to the member states to decide on the return of Syria to the Arab League and declined to comment when asked about a precise date for Syria's possible return to the league.

The foreign ministers expressed their appreciation for the positive engagement shown by the Syrian foreign minister in examining the initiatives and steps presented during the meeting.

According to the final statement of the consultative meeting, it was agreed to form two separate joint political-security working groups within a month between Syria, Jordan, and Iraq to identify the sources of drug production and smuggling in Syria and the entities that organize, manage, and carry out cross-border smuggling operations, with Jordan and Iraq.

The ministers agreed to form a technical team of experts to follow up on the meeting outcomes and identify the next steps of this targeted path to address the solution to the crisis in Syria and its repercussions.

The Jordanian minister confirmed that the meeting launched a new political track, "a specific agenda" that contributes to resolving the crisis, meeting the people's aspirations, and combating terrorism, through a leading Arab role in determining the Syrian crisis.

In the closing statement, the participants agreed to resume the constitutional commission's work as soon as possible in the context of political steps to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation.

The ministers said that countries participating in the meeting would work with other countries and the international community to meet the positive steps of the Syrian government and build on what has been accomplished, moving towards a political solution.

They noted that this would realize national reconciliation, allow Syria to embark on reconstruction towards a safe future that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and their right to live in peace in their country, and restore Syria's regional role.

The officials called for enhancing cooperation between the Syrian government, concerned countries, and the UN in developing a comprehensive strategy to strengthen security and combat terrorism in all its forms, to end the presence of terrorist organizations in Syrian territory, and neutralize their capacity to threaten regional and international security.

They agreed to support Syria and its institutions in any legitimate efforts to extend control over their territory and to impose the rule of law, end the presence of armed and terrorist groups in Syrian territory and stop foreign interventions.

The meeting resulted in an agreement on practical steps to address the security challenges associated with border security by establishing effective coordination mechanisms between the Syrian military and security agencies and their counterparts in neighboring countries.

The final statement emphasized that refugees' voluntary and safe return to their country is a top priority, and steps must be taken to begin its immediate implementation.

They agreed to boost cooperation between the Syrian government and refugee host countries and coordinate with relevant UN bodies to organize refugees' voluntary and safe return and end their suffering.

It should also consider providing Arab and international contributions while clarifying the measures it will take to facilitate their return, including their inclusion in general pardon decrees.

They also agreed to intensify work with the international community and the UN to accelerate the implementation of early recovery projects, including in areas where refugees are expected to return.

It should also lead to improved infrastructure to provide a decent living for refugees who voluntarily return to Syria.

The final statement announced the launch of cooperation between the Syrian and Jordanian governments, in coordination with relevant UN bodies, to organize the voluntary return of some 1,000 Syrian refugees residing in Jordan.

The foreign ministers emphasized the importance of enhancing cooperation to advance efforts to search for missing persons with all parties and relevant international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, in coordination with the Syrian government.

The ministers agreed that similar steps should be taken, as appropriate, to resolve the issue of internally displaced people, including the Rukban camp.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.