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 RIYADH, March 4, (Agencies): Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said here on Tuesday the aggravating humanitarian situation in Syria necessitates immediate and effective international intervention to protect unarmed citizens in Syria. In a keynote speech during the 130th session of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held Tuesday, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said: “Out of our deep keenness to safeguard the security and stability of the entire region and world and out of commitment to basic constants that govern international relations and conventions, we find ourselves before a painful situation in Syria as a result of nonstop bloodshed for the third consecutive year, escalating violence and aggravating humanitarian situation inside and outside Syria.

“This matter puts the entire world before a big challenge that requires immediate and effective intervention by the UN, the international community and the (UN) Security Council to take effective and deterrent measures to protect citizens’ lives,” he said. The Kuwaiti minister also called for sending the “perpetrators of such crimes” to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ensuring delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in besieged areas and inside and outside Syria. In this context, he pointed to the donor conference on Syria which was hosted by Kuwait on Jan 15, appreciating Gulf support in this regard.

He also spoke highly of the UNSC Resolution No. 2139/2014 on humanitarian aid to Syria, hoping that it would contribute to the alleviation of the humanitarian sufferings and woes of the Syrian people.
He cited the resolution as having welcomed the total pledges’ worth of $2.5 billion in humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, announced during the Kuwait conference on Syria.
On Geneva II talks, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said the GCC member states had hoped that such negotiations on Syria could have marked an initial step towards a political settlement to the current situation in Syria. 
The Kuwaiti top diplomat asserted that the Palestinian cause will remain the major cause for the Arab World.
“Supporting the Palestinian cause is a top priority for the GCC foreign policy,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said.
He reiterated the GCC solid stance in favor of the Palestinian people’s struggle to restore their occupied territories as well as its stance against the illegal Israel settlement activities on the Palestinian lands.
“The Palestinian cause will only be settled through a comprehensive and just solution in accordance with the relative UN resolutions, Madrid peace conference and the Arab Peace Initiative,” he added.
He underlined the need to peaceful settlement to the conflict based on the two-state vision to ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state on the borders of the fourth of June 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.
With regard to the Iranian nuclear drive, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister welcomed the provisional nuclear agreement signed recently between Iran and Group (5 +1).
He expressed hope that the agreement would pave the way for a comprehensive and final agreement to close this file. He urged Iran to show full commitment to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to apply the relative conventions and resolutions.
On Yemen, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said that the recent visit of the GCC delegation to Yemen to participate in the closing ceremony of the national dialogue was meant to show GCC’s commitment to support the success of the political process in Yemen.
He welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution No. 2140/2014 which reflected the international community’s support to political transition in Yemen and to people demands of change and stability.
He applauded Yemeni national unity government’s implementation of GCC-brokered power transition agreement.
On Djibouti, Sheikh Sabah Khaled said that a GCC delegation had recently visited Djibouti to express Arab Gulf countries’ support stability of Djibouti and the Horn of Africa.
The Saudi government said on Monday that those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria should be identified and made to face justice.
In its weekly meeting, the Saudi cabinet also called for all foreign fighters within Syria to withdraw, for safe havens to be established for civilians and for transport routes to be allowed in order to ensure the arrival of urgent humanitarian relief.
On Palestinian affairs, the ministers, in a statement, warned of continuously increasing Israeli breaches on Al-Aqsa Mosque, along with provocative and racist calls to launch attacks on the holy site.
They called on the international community to bear full responsibility for safeguarding and protecting the city of Jerusalem and Islamic holy sites from Israeli threats, and for obliging Israel to respect international resolutions and conventions.
Syrian government troops are tightening their grip on the last rebel stronghold near the border with Lebanon a day after taking control of a key village in the area, a field commander told reporters on Tuesday.
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have seized a string of towns and villages in the rugged Qalamoun region along the Lebanese border since launching an offensive there in November. Backed by gunmen from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, the army seized the village of Sahel this week and is closing in on Yabroud, the largest town in the mountainous region still in rebel hands.
The government operation aims to sever the rebel supply routes from nearby Lebanon and shore up its hold on the main north-south highway that runs through the area.
During a government-led tour of the village of Sahel, a Syrian commander told reporters that troops ousted opposition fighters from the village Monday, bringing down the rebels’ “first defense line” of Yabroud. The officer did not provide his name, in line with military regulations.
Hezbollah guerrillas have played a significant role in the government push. The Lebanese Shiite militant is eager to clear the border area of the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels trying to topple Assad’s government. Hezbollah claims that several cars used in recent bombings targeting predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of south Beirut have been rigged in Yabroud.
Al-Qaeda-linked groups have claimed responsibility for several of the attacks in Lebanon, saying they were retaliation for Hezbollah’s military support for Assad.
Opposition groups said fighting was raging Tuesday on the edge of Yabroud, with government helicopters dropping barrel bombs on the town’s outskirts. The makeshift bombs, which the government has used to devastating effect in other parts of Syria, are packed with explosives and fuel and are intended to cause massive damage to urban areas.
Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said rebels fighting in Yabroud belong predominantly to hard-line Islamic groups, including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the breakaway group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Syria’s state news agency reported heavy fighting around Yabroud on Tuesday. It said the army destroyed a car fitted with a machinegun, and killed fighters from the Nusra Front and other rebel groups.
The Syrian field commander said the army is determined to clear the area by launching a final assault from Sahel. He said “morale was high among the troops as they fulfill their mission” to capture Yabroud.
Syria has surrendered or destroyed nearly a third of its chemical arsenal but remains behind on its international obligations, the head of the disarmament mission told the world’s chemical watchdog Tuesday. Syria has already missed several target dates to hand over or destroy its arsenal before a June 30 deadline and the United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission called on Damascus to move faster. “Nearly one third of Syria’s chemical weapons material has now been removed or destroyed,” UN-OPCW coordinator Sigrid Kaag told a meeting of the watchdog at its Hague headquarters. “This is good progress and I expect further acceleration and intensification of effort.”
OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu told the Executive Council meeting that Syria had submitted a revised proposal to complete the removal of all chemicals from Syria before the end of April, after previously saying it could only complete the job by June.
An OPCW meeting two weeks ago heard that just 11 percent of Syria’s dangerous chemicals had left the country.
But with two shipments last week and one more expected this week, the country will have handed over more than 35 percent of its arsenal, Uzumcu said.
“Given delays since the lapse of the two target dates for removal, it will be important to maintain this newly created momentum,” Uzumcu said.
Syria was to have shipped out most dangerous Category 1 chemicals by December 31 and Category 2 chemicals by Feb 5.
“For its part, the Syrian Government has reaffirmed its commitment to implement the removal operations in a timely manner,” Uzumcu said.
France is preparing to seal a multi-billion-dollar plan to help modernise Lebanon’s armed forces as part of international efforts to stabilise a country hard hit by spillover from Syria’s civil war next door.
At a meeting in Paris on Wednesday, the International Support Group for Lebanon, which includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, will also muster more help for almost 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and create a fund to mitigate the economic fallout from Syria’s conflict.
“This group’s objective is to avoid the differences that we have on Syria spreading to Lebanon,” a French diplomatic source said. “This meeting will provide support for the army, the economy and the refugee crisis.”
Lebanon was still recovering from its own 1975-90 civil war when Syria’s much bigger conflict erupted in 2011, re-inflaming old sectarian divisions that transcend their common border.
A caretaker government has run Lebanon since last March as parties aligned with the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement and a Sunni Muslim-led rival bloc have pursued a power struggle exacerbated by their support for the opposing sides in Syria.
In an apparent breakthrough last month, Prime Minister Tammam Salam finally managed to pull together a coalition of leaders from across the political spectrum. But it has since been held up by wrangling over a policy statement that must be agreed before a vote of confidence it must get from parliament.
The Paris meeting will however go ahead with the foreign ministers of the five veto-wielding Security Council members — France, United States, Russia, Britain and China — attending.

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