- Syria increases massacre of innocent Arab civilians after agreeing to peace deal
- Turkey appeals to United Nations over flood of refugees from Syria
- Iran, Hezbollah significantly increase aid to Syria's Assad
- Sobbing, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez begs God to let him live
- Tuareg rebels declare independent state of Azawad in northern Mali
Syria increases massacre of innocent Arab civilians after agreeing to peace deal
After having agreed to stop all violence by April 10, the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has been bringing the massacre of innocent Arab civilians to new heights. Concentrating on the borders with Turkey and Lebanon, Syrian regime forces have targeted villages and towns with intense helicopter, tank and artillery bombardment, indiscriminately killing everyone, including women and children. The regime is mining the border with Turkey in order to prevent Syrians from crossing the border. According to one refugee leader:
"Every time the regime is given a deadline it is a catastrophe. Assad interprets it as a license for unlimited killing and another deadline is set."
Turkey appeals to United Nations over flood of refugees from Syria
Nearly 3,000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey on Thursday and early Friday, doubling the previous rate of refugee flow, pushing the total to nearly 24,000, as Syria's army intensified its massacre of civilians in the run up to April 10, the "deadline" for Syria to end the violence. The daily number of people crossing the border has stayed well below 1,000 per day in preceding months.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged the UN to play a ‘more active role’ in Syria’s growing refugee crisis, in a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to Davutoglu:
I told him [Ban] that there are operations targeting civilians particularly in Aleppo and Idlib and that there has been a growing influx of refugees into Turkey as a result of these operations. I said that necessary actions must be taken and that the clashes must end immediately. ...
Our doors have always been open to people who are leaving their houses, homelands and villages and coming to our country to protect their lives, however the international community should also see this fact.
Reports indicate that Turkey has set up enough camps to handle some 45,000 Syrian refugees, but fears a flood of hundreds of thousands of refugees as the crisis continues. Zaman (Istanbul)
Iran, Hezbollah significantly increase aid to Syria's Assad
Fearing the fall of their ally, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Hezbollah are significantly stepping up support for Assad, supplying arms to Syrian troops and training them. Reports say that Hezbollah fighters were killed in clashes with rebel forces. Haaretz
Sobbing, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez begs God to let him live
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez returned Thursday from another round of cancer treatment in Cuba. On Thursday he attended a Catholic mass in western Venezuela, and spoke of his struggle with cancer. He said that he had "much faith, much hope, much willpower to defeat this threat, as many people have, with the help of God and medical science." He ended with a message to God:
Give me your crown, Christ, give it to me. Let me bleed. Give me your cross, 100 crosses, so I can carry them. But give me life, because I still have things to do for this people and this country. Do not take me yet. Give me your cross, give me your thorns, give me your blood. I am prepared to carry it. But with life, Christ. Amen.
The harshly anti-American Chávez has refused to divulge details of his cancer, giving rise to rumors that he's far more ill than he's admitting. CNN
Tuareg rebels declare independent state of Azawad in northern Mali
Events are moving quickly in the chaotic situation in Mali:
- The Tuareg rebels, under the banner of the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA), said on Friday that they are in control of northern Mali, and they have declared an the independent state of 'Azawad'. However, the United States, African nations, and many other nations indicated that they would not recognize the new state of Azawad.
- The Tuareg rebels are challenged in the north by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and another jihadist group Ansar Dine, who have conflicting objectives with MNLA. AQIM and MNLA formed an uneasy alliance because of their common enemy, the government of Mali, but they don't want independence from Mali. Instead, they want to conduct terrorist acts killing civilians, and impose jihadist Sharia law on northern Mali. MNLA is vowing that they want nothing to do with AQIM.
- Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led a group of Mali army deserters to a coup to weeks ago, is begging his neighbors for help in fighting off the MNLA and the Islamists. But just as the world community is not recognizing the independent state of Azawad, they're also not recognizing the government of Sanogo, and they're demanding that the former government be reinstated.
- Mali's neighbors, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which includes Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Liberia, are not only not helping Sanogo, they've imposed an embargo on the landlocked Mali, so that it's impossible to import food, gasoline and other goods. Mali's borders have been closed to trade, the country's access to funds at the central bank for the region's common currency frozen and travel bans slapped on coup leaders and their supporters.
- There is a growing humanitarian situation in Mali. Many parts of the country, especially the north, are totally lawless, and women and girls in particularly are being abducted. Food supplies and medicines stored by aid agencies have been looted and most workers have fled.
- Many people are fleeing to neighboring countries, which have their own problems with food and AQIM.
BBC and AP