Archive | April 20th, 2013

Solve crisis through talks: India to Syria

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By Express News Service

NEW DELHI

 

Even as the humanitarian crisis worsens in Syria, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday wrote to Bashar al-Assad, his counterpart in the West Asian country, hoping that all sides would stop violence and resolve the conflict through discussions.

Pranab wrote the letter on the eve of Syria’s national day, which falls on April 17. Extending “warm greetings and felicitations” to Assad, the president reiterated to “further strengthen and diversify our bilateral cooperation”. Noting that both countries have enjoyed friendly relations, Pranab said India was therefore concerned at the loss of lives and violence in Syria.

“We hope that all sides will cease violence at the earliest and resolve all issues peacefully through discussions, in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué, taking into account the aspirations of the people of Syria,” Pranab said.

India has been supportive of the United Nations-led initiative to bring the two sides in the civil war to the negotiation table. Yet, there appears no end to the crisis, as both the rebels and government are balancing out each other militarily.

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Welcome to America: Nightly Vigils Support Activists Jailed for Protesting Corporation’s ‘Toxic Trespass

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Sandra Steingraber, Melissa Chipman and Michael Dineen begin serving 15-day jail sentences

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Nightly vigils began Thursday in support of three activists serving 15-day jail sentences for their act of civil disobedience against the “toxic trespass” of hazardous chemicals by an energy company.

Sandra Steingraber speaking to Bill Moyers this week. (Screengrab)The jailed upstate New York activists/community members, biology professor, author and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber along with Melissa Chipman and Michael Dineen, the Ithaca Journal reports,

were among a dozen people, dubbed the “Seneca Lake 12,” who were arrested for trespassing at the Inergy natural gas storage facility on state Route 14 in Reading.

The 12, along with another dozen people, blocked the gates to protest Inergy’s plan to store natural gas and propane in salt caverns under Seneca Lake and what they see as the company’s plan to turn the region into a transportation hub for natural gas and propane shipments.

But using salt caverns for such storage has proven “catastrophic,” Ellen Cantarow explains:

For millennia, salt has been mined for consumption and food preservation. The caverns, or disused mines, located a thousand feet and more beneath ground and water, are now being used for unconventional oil and gas storage, with catastrophic results. In Louisiana, the collapse of salt caverns used this way has resulted in massive seepage of gas and oil into surface and groundwater, necessitating the evacuation of whole communities. According to a report this past January, in 2002 salt caverns constituted only seven percent of the U.S.’s 407 underground gas storage sites. But between 1972 and 2004 they were responsible for all 10 of the catastrophic accidents involving gas storage.

For the past several years one of New York’s grassroots anti-fracking groups,Gas Free Seneca, has been trying to draw public attention to plans by a Missouri-based corporation, Inergy, LP, the U.S.’s largest energy storage and transportation corporation, to use two salt caverns located beside the lake for storing millions of gallons of unconventional gas. This would transform a New York State wonder, the historic Finger Lakes region, into the Northeast’s biggest gas storage and transportation hub, endangering the area’s ecology and the lives of residents.

Steingraber called the practice “tantamount to burying giant cigarette lighters in the earth.”

Speaking to Bill Moyers a day before her sentencing, Steingraber said,

I believe, as do many of my colleagues in the sciences, that it’s not safe to compress explosive gases and store them underneath and beside a lake that serves as the drinking water for a hundred thousand people.

And ahead of starting his jail term, Dineen also warned of the potential ecological catastrophe that could come with Inergy’s plans:

I believe the Inergy gas storage complex will, at best, damage the community, and has the potential to do catastrophic damage. Important information has been kept from the public with the DEC’s cooperation. I do this to attempt to protect the community when all other means have failed. I blocked the entrance to the Inergy gas storage facility because I believe that the institutions who, by law and purpose, are required to protect the people and the environment from harm can no longer be relied on to do so.”

In her sentencing statement, Steingraber highlighted how it is Ingery, not the activists, who are engaging in dangerous trespass, saying

my small, non-violent act of trespass is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies.  This is a form of toxic trespass.

She added to Moyers:

From my point of view as a biologist and a mother, this out-of-state company… is trespassing in our community.

In a letter from jail on Thursday, Steingraber wrote, in part:

If we do not want New York to become a prison of wellheads, pipelines and compressor stations; if we do not want the violence of climate change instability and mass species extinction; if we do not want to leave our children a diminished world bereft of frog song, bees, coral reefs, sea ice; then coming to a place as far removed from the rhythms of the natural world as a jail cell is not an inappropriate place to say so.

Environment and culture magazine Orion, where Steingraber is a columnist, posts this:

In lieu of letters to jail, Sandra asks supporters to direct their energies toward writing their local media outlets.

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‘Syria forces kill 200 terrorists in west’

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A unit of the Syrian armed forces carry out a military operation in the Khan al-Raslan neighbourhood of Syria

A unit of the Syrian armed forces carry out a military operation in the Khan al-Raslan neighbourhood of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, on October 8, 2012.
Syrian military forces have killed at least 200 terrorists in the western coastal province of Latakia, media reports say.

Reports said on Saturday that the government troops inflicted heavy casualties on the militants and destroyed their equipment during an operation in Latakia countryside.

The clashes came as Syrian forces and foreign-backed insurgents have been engaged in heavy renewed fighting in several parts of the country.

In other operations, army troops have targeted militants gatherings at al-R’oneh valley, west Qara, al-Mal valley, as well as Tel al-Malouhi in Nabek, killing and wounding a number of them.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants.

In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants fighting against the Syrian government take power in his country they could destabilize the entire Middle East for decades.

“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control… the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he added.

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Zio-Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

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4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded during incursions in the West Bank.

A shepherd was wounded in the central Gaza Strip as Israeli forces opened fire at him.

Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

4 protestors, including a Spanish human rights activist, were wounded during peaceful protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities.

2 Palestinian civilians were wounded during protests in support of prisoners in the Israeli jails.

Israeli forces conducted 71 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 1 limited incursion in the southern Gaza Strip.

40 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children, were arrested in the West Bank.

2 children were arrested while attempting to cross the borders into Israel.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

During the reporting period, the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel were completely closed for 4 days.

Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

11 Palestinian civilians, including 2 brothers and a girl, were arrested at checkpoints.

Israeli forces have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen at sea.

Israeli forces continued to fire at Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them to sail within the 3 nautical mile limit.

Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

The settlers uprooted dozens of trees throughout the West Bank, aiming to create space to further expand their settlements

A child was wounded when a settler tried to deliberately  run  him over in Taqou’ village, southeast of Bethlehem.

3 farmers sustained bruises due to the settlers’ attack on them.

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period 11 – 17 April 2013:

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 10 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a Palestinian and a Spanish human rights activist in the West Bank; 6 of whom were wounded during peaceful protests against the annexation wall, settlement activities and in support of Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. The 4 others were wounded during incursions conducted in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces wounded a shepherd from al-Bureij refugee camp, in the centre of the Gaza Strip. They also continued to open fire at Palestinian fishing boats, restricting the permitted fishing area to 3 nautical miles instead of the 6 nautical mile limit which  was agreed in the ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in November 2012.

In the West Bank during incursions conducted by the Israeli forces 5 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a physically disabled former prisoner, were wounded.

On 11 April 2013, Mo’taz Mohammed Faraj Ebeido, 32, from Hebron, who is a  physically disabled former prisoner, was wounded and arrested when the Israeli forces raided Ebeido telecommunication store.

The full report is available online at:

http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9426:weekly-report-on-israeli-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-11-17-april-2013&catid=84:weekly-2009&Itemid=183

 

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Glenn Beck Says He Has Proof Boston Bombing Is Inside Job

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  By Matt Liponoga 

glennbeck-620x362

 

Glen Beck has claimed that he has proof the federal government carried out the Boston marathon bombing as a false flag operation. He gives Obama until Monday to admit it or his show will reveal the evidence. Is this just to get extra attention or does he have something more? Glenn Beck has always done a great job at laying out facts in his arguments, but we will see. We do however know that on Monday an anonymous source said that the raids would happen on Friday and obviously that already came true. There is a lot of suspicious things surrounding the Boston bombings, but is it just conspiracy theories at work again?

 

 

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Video: IsraHell soldiers use handcuffed Palestinian teen as human shield as they fire at protestors

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Submitted by Ali Abunimah

Israeli soldiers used a handcuffed Palestinian teenager as a human shield as they fired at protestors in the occupied West Bank village of Abu Dis on Friday.

The incident was witnessed by independent journalist Huthifa Jamous who took photographs. Jamous also posted video footage of the incident on his Facebook page that was shot by Twitter user @Kate_Arno.

Jamous told The Electronic Intifada by telephone that the incident occurred during a protest in solidarity with hunger striking prisoner Samer Issawi in the village which is adjacent to occupied Jerusalem.

According to the Jerusalem Media Center, Israeli occupation forces opened fire on protestors using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets and youths responded with stones and empty bottles.

Handcuffed and forced to march down street

Israeli soldiers use a Palestinian teenager as a human shield in the occupied West Bank village of Abu Dis on 19 April 2013.

(Huthifa Jamous)

In the video, a group of Israeli soldiers can be seen taking a Palestinian youth, Muhammad R., age 17, out of the back of an armored vehicle and then frog-marching him down the street.

The youth appears to be handcuffed and his hands are held above his head by one of the occupation soldiers. As the soldiers force the teenager down the street, three of them raise their weapons and aim them, apparently at protestors who are outside the frame.

The soldiers then stop, and while deliberately exposing the youth, fire two shots toward the protestors.

Another video includes footage of youths defending the village from Israeli occupation forces using stones.

 

Using human shields: a common Israeli war crime

The use of any person as a human shield, especially a prisoner, is a serious war crime, but as B’Tselem reports, Israeli occupation forces have a long history of engaging in this barbaric practice.

In February, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section reported another case where Israeli soldiers kidnapped and then used nine-year-old Mustafa Wahdan as a human shield during a protest near Ofer Prison, where many Palestinian political prisoners are detained.

Because of the near-total impunity Israeli soldiers enjoy for crimes against Palestinians, soldiers are rarely held to account.

In one of the very rare cases were action was taken, two soldiers were tried for using Majid Rabah, then aged nine, as a human shield during Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. The soldiers were found guilty but given a symbolic sentence.

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Surveillance Video Related to Boston Bombings

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ed note–a few things worth noting here–

1. Both these suspects are men of obvious military age.

2. They are both ‘mediterranean’ in complexion.

3. They are both physically fit

4. They both walk with confidence and professionalism. No looking over their shoulders, no nervous behavior. Seemingly knowing that someone ‘has their back’.

 

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Boston Bombing Suspect Killed in Shootout

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online.wsj.com

U.S. authorities on Friday locked down the Boston area in the hunt for one of two brothers of Chechen background suspected in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.

Authorities identified one suspect as 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnayev, who was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown, Mass., according to a U.S. law-enforcement official.

A manhunt was on for the second suspect, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnayev, 19 years old. Both brothers were believed to be involved in the fatal shooting of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer during a chaotic series of events Thursday night.

Police warned residents that the at-large suspect was armed and dangerous.

“We believe this to be a terrorist,” said Boston Police Chief Ed Davis. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody.”

The hunt for the younger Mr. Tsarnayev prompted a broad shutdown of public facilities in the Boston area. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked people throughout Boston to take shelter and stay indoors.

The Federal Aviation Administration closed the low-level airspace above roughly four miles in northwest Greater Boston as the search goes on. Logan International Airport in Boston tweeted that it “is open and operating under heightened security.” It urged fliers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

The younger brother was the suspect seen wearing a white cap backward in video and photos released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday. The release prompted a large number of tips from the public, federal officials said. The older brother was wearing a black cap in the video and photos.

Evan Perez and former FBI special agent in charge Andrew Arena, discuss the significance of the Boston Marathon suspects being from Chechnya, Russia. Photo: AP.

Authorities said the older brother was critically injured in the shootout and taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was pronounced dead. Richard Wolfe, the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, said the man had multiple injuries from what appeared to be both an explosive device and gunshot wounds.

The manhunt brought much of the Boston area to a halt on Friday. Mr. Patrick ordered the city’s subway and bus system to be shut down. As police conducted a sprawling search for the suspect in the Boston suburb of Watertown, authorities prohibited street traffic and told businesses there and in surrounding areas to remain closed.

Police were stopping cars at roadblocks as they entered Logan International Airport. Businesses were closed and taxi service was suspended in the city.

The websites of the MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Boston College said classes were canceled Friday.

“We do not want people congregating or waiting,” said Kurt Schwartz, the Massachusetts director of emergency management. The situation, said State Police Col. Timothy Alben, “is grave.”

The FAA has restricted all civilian aircraft within 3,000 feet of the surface over an area that appears to include Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston and Cambridge in Massachusetts, an FAA spokesman said. On the FAA’s website, the reason listed for the restriction is “to provide a safer environment for law-enforcement activities,” and the point of contact listed for the restriction is an FBI special agent. The FAA closed the airspace at about 6:30 a.m. local time and said it would remain closed until further notice.

Airport officials were not immediately available for comment.

The violence began at around 10:30 p.m. Thursday with the robbery of a 7-Eleven in nearby Cambridge, authorities said. The two men then fatally shot an MIT campus police officer and carjacked a Mercedes sport-utility vehicle at gunpoint, keeping the vehicle’s owner hostage for about a half-hour, police said. The owner was released at a gas station in Cambridge, authorities said. He wasn’t injured.

As police pursued the vehicle, explosive devices were thrown from the car, authorities said. “There was an exchange of gunfire” between police and the suspects,” Mr. Alben said.

A Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer was wounded during the exchange.

Hundreds of police officers descended on the Cambridge and Watertown areas as the violence unfolded Thursday night, authorities said. Residents said they heard loud explosions and gunfire.

Katie Blouin, 24 years old, of Watertown, said FBI agents and local police entered her house, searching before telling her boyfriend to lock the house’s doors.

“I’m shaking,” she said. “It just makes you so nervous.”

Adonis Karageorgis, a 35-year-old dental student who lives in Watertown, said he heard a loud explosion from his apartment balcony.

“I looked up and saw the sky light up,” he said. “You could smell the smoke.”

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center geared up for a potential mass-casualty event when one doctor there—who lives near the scene of the gunfight—heard the commotion outside his home.

“When I started hearing the gunshots and explosions, given what had happened over at MIT and seeing all the police cars rushing into Watertown and past my house and hearing all the sirens, I knew or felt very strongly that this was related to the events from earlier this week as well as from what happened over at MIT,” said David Schoenfeld, an emergency physician there, during a news conference early Friday.

“Because of that, I felt as though something large enough was going on in the community that it warranted calling the emergency department and coming in,” he said.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the interfaith service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

The MIT campus police officer wasn’t identified. The officer had multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement on the Middlesex County District Attorney’s website.

Shortly before midnight Thursday, police were gathered in Watertown, and a stretch of the campus near Vassar Street and Main Street in Cambridge was cordoned off. Police were searching through woods with dogs and flashlights.

Dozens of police officers gathered at Massachusetts General Hospital, where the injured officer was reportedly taken. Officers directing traffic asked those who arrived in a panic: “friend or family?” A few officers wept openly as they hurried into the emergency room.

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‘World’s Jewish billionaires worth combined $812 billion’

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Oracle’s Larry Ellison heads Forbes IsraHell’s list of richest Jews; Bloomberg, Adelson round up top 3

Times of Israel

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison heads a list of 165 Jewish billionaires, Forbes Israel reported.

According to the Hebrew magazine, which released its list on Thursday, Ellison has a net worth of $43 billion, up $7 billion from last year. Ellison was fifth on the Forbes 2013 list of world billionaires.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was second on the Forbes Israel list with $27 billion, up $5 billion from 2012. He appeared 13th on the world list.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and philanthropist, was third with $26.5 billion and was 15th on the world list.

Eight of the top 10 on the Forbes Israel list of the world’s billionaires are from the United States; the remaining two are Russians.

Rounding out the top 10 are Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, $23 billion and $22.5 billion, respectively; Carl Icahn, $20 billion; George Soros, $19.2 billion; Alisher Usmanov, $17.6 billion; Mikhail Fridman, $16.5 billion; and Len Blavatnik, $16 billion.

The billionaires combined are worth a total of $812 billion.

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Syria’s UN ambassador accuses IsraHell of aiding rebels

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Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari at the UN General Assembly at the United Nations in August 2012 (photo credit: AP/Kathy Willens)

Bashar al-Ja’afari claims Salafist and other Islamist opponents of Damascus regime given medical help and allowed back onto battlefield

Times of Israel
Syria’s UN ambassador on Thursday accused Israel of assisting Salafist and other Islamist groups in Syria to overthrow the government in Damascus.

At a special public Security Council hearing called to address the humanitarian challenges in the war-torn country, Bashar al-Ja’afari said that Israel had given medical aid to Salafist and Islamist rebels and returned them to the battlefield.

“Israel [has a] partnership with Salafi, Takfiri and terrorist groups, allowing those armed groups to cross the separation line in the occupied Syrian Golan and treating their wounded in Israeli hospitals and returning them to the Syria territory through the separation line anew,” Ja’afari said.

He also accused Western intelligence agencies of aiding Syrian rebels who had “spread destruction and sabotage and shed innocent blood there too.”

Ja’afari’s comments echoed Syrian President Bashar Assad, who told a Syrian television station Wednesday that the West was backing al-Qaeda against his embattled regime.

Ja’afari’s comments were apparently referring to two separate instances in recent weeks in which wounded Syrians were allowed across the border into Israel for medical treatment.

The Syrians were later returned across the border, amid reports that the IDF was setting up a field hospital along the frontier for future cases.

Israel officials refused to say whether the Syrians who entered Israel were fighting on the side of the rebels or that of Damascus.

While hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled Syria into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, Israel has kept its borders closed, with officials saying the cases of the wounded being let in for treatment did not change that policy and were isolated humanitarian cases.

Israel reportedly struck a convoy of weapons reportedly en route to Hezbollah and has struck back at Syrian positions after mortars landed in Israeli territory, but has mostly stayed out of the conflict.

Netanyahu told the BBC Thursday that it is Israel’s right to keep weapons from falling into the wrong hands in Syria. Officials have also raised concerns over hardline Islamist groups taking over areas near Israel’s northern border.

“The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria — these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister added that “we are not aggressive. We don’t seek military confrontation, but we are prepared to defend ourselves if the need arises… and I think people know that what I say is both measured and serious.”

At the UN meeting, the body’s chief humanitarian official asked the Security Council to approve cross-border relief operations into Syria to deliver aid to millions of suffering civilians.

It was the focus of a public briefing by the UN agency chiefs for humanitarian affairs, refugees, women in conflict, and children in conflict, who used the Security Council platform as a way of speaking over the heads of the deadlocked council nations to appeal to the world for pressure to allow relief for Syria’s civilians.

The agency chiefs launched their campaign Monday with an op-ed in The New York Times that said: “There still seems to be an insufficient sense of urgency among the governments and parties that could put a stop to the cruelty and carnage in Syria.”

The Security Council has been deadlocked for months on the Syrian war, and did not act or make any statement after Thursday’s briefing.

Western and Arab nations blame the conflict on Assad’s government. Russia insists on assigning equal blame for the suffering to the Syrian rebel opposition, and has cast vetoes, along with China, to block draft council resolutions.

Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said, “We were told, just in the last 24 hours, that the (Syrian) government now requires two ministers to sign off the movement of every single truck. This is going to make our job completely impossible.” She said children are starving to death in Syria for want of food aid.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, warned the council that without an end to the fighting soon, almost half of Syria’s 20.8 million population could be in need of humanitarian help by the end of 2013.

Guterres said 400,000 refugees had fled Syria in the last seven weeks, bringing the population of Syrians registered as refugees or waiting to be registered to 1,367,413. If current trends continue, he said, then by the end of the year there may be up to 3.5 million Syrian refugees, together with 6.5 million people inside Syria who could become in need of help.

“These figures are terrifying,” Guterres said.

In the past few weeks, the humanitarian agencies have separately warned that their resources are running low, and that without additional funds they will be forced to scale back relief efforts.

About half of the $1.5 billion needed to fund Syria’s humanitarian needs through June has been collected, Amos said, largely thanks to a recent $300 million pledge from Kuwait.

Amos said 6.8 million Syrians are in need, with 4.25 million displaced within Syria and 1.3 million as refugees in neighboring countries.

The UN special representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, said women in Syria have been “raped, tortured and humiliated.”

“Many have attempted to commit suicide,” she added.

On Wednesday she presented a report to the council that accused Syria’s military and intelligence forces and an allied militia of using systematic sexual violence on women.

She said Thursday that Syria had brought one instance of the rape of a Syrian woman by opposition forces to her attention.

Bangura urged the opposition Free Syrian Army to issue orders to its fighters to respect women and hold rapists accountable, and made the same demand of Syrian government forces and its Shabbiha militia.

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