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Vote won’t be helpful: Kuwait Nearly 60 killed in Syria attacks

KUWAIT CITY, April 29, (Agencies): First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said Kuwait did not wish to see presidential elections in Syria, while President Bashar Al-Assad’s candidacy would undermine political endeavors for transition. “We don’t wish to see presidential elections in Syria next June,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled told a session of the Arab Media Forum. Al-Assad’s candidacy for the elections “will undermine the political endeavors and the agreement (communique) of the Geneva I, which focuses on creation of a transitional executive authority to rule Syria,” he said.

The senior Kuwaiti official said the escalation of unrest in Syria would affect the whole region, including Kuwait. He said the devastating destruction in Syria and hostilities would extend to all regional countries, including Iraq “which is steps away from Kuwait.” The conflict in Syria, which broke out in March 2011, killed some 150,000 people and displaced millions others either internally or in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, meanwhile, expressed keenness to uniting Arabs and boosting common Arab action. He highlighted the endeavors of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to healing the wounds among the Arabian Gulf countries. His Highness the Amir’s endeavors “were welcomed by the GCC leaders to overcome all obstacles facing the Gulf march,” he added. “Differences in points of view are natural, but the most important thing is how to deal with them and address them,” said Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled. Iran, meanwhile, defended Syria’s June presidential election, saying the vote could end the three-year-old civil war ravaging its close ally. The response came as al-Assad registered to stand in the June 3 vote, which is widely expected to return him to office despite the grinding conflict.

Shiite Iran has been a staunch supporter of Assad’s regime in its battle against mostly Sunni rebels backed by Gulf Arab countries and some Western governments. “We believe the presidential election will play an important role in establishing peace and stability in the country,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters at her weekly briefing. She called on the international community to “respect the inalienable rights of the Syrian people, so that the vote can bring an end to the country’s crisis”. Around 60 people were killed in Syria’s Damascus and Homs on Tuesday, as an international watchdog said it would probe alleged chlorine attacks in the country.

Meanwhile, the parliament speaker said four new candidates had registered for next month’s presidential election, expected to return Bashar al-Assad to office despite the civil war, which has left vast swathes of the country out of his control. A barrage of mortar shells fired by rebels hit a central neighbourhood in the capital early Tuesday, killing at least 14 people, state media reported. “Fourteen citizens were killed and 86 others wounded by terrorists who targeted the Shaghur neighbourhood in Damascus,” the SANA news agency said, using the regime term for rebels. The attack hit a school of Islamic jurisprudence where some students are as young as 14, though it was unclear if children were among the dead. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, put the toll at 17, adding that the figure could rise because several of the injured were in critical condition. Hours later, a car bomb ripped through a crowded area of the country’s third city Homs, followed shortly afterwards by a rocket attack on the same neighbourhood, the provincial governor told AFP.


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