Rebel leaders hope to starve Colonel Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte into submission, laying siege to his last remaining stronghold in an attempt to avoid mass bloodshed, according to the man spearheading efforts for a peaceful takeover.
Rebel commanders have been negotiating with tribal leaders in Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, hoping to avoid further bloodshed. They announced Thursday that they had extended the negotiations’ deadline for another week, from this coming Saturday.
“We want to save our fighters and not lose a single one in battles with Qaddafi’s forces,” said Mohammed al-Rajali, a spokesman for the rebel leadership in the eastern city of Benghazi.
“In the end, we will get Sirte, even if we have to cut water and electricity” and let NATO pound it with airstrikes, he said.
Syrian government is accused of using hunger as a weapon of war against its people and preventing U.N. aid staff in delivering food and medicines to rebel-held suburbs.
As the United Nations launched an annual appeal on Monday to help 16 million people affected Syria’s civil war, divisions among world powers that have crippled peacemaking are also denying UN staff the power to defy President Bashar al-Assad’s officials and push into neighbourhoods now under siege.
“In government-controlled parts of Syria, what, where and to whom to distribute aid, and even staff recruitment, have to be negotiated and are sometimes dictated,” said Ben Parker, who ran the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Syria for a year until last February.
“According to the Syrian government’s official position, humanitarian agencies and supplies are allowed to go anywhere, even across any frontline,” he wrote last month in the journal Humanitarian Exchange. “But every action requires time-consuming permissions, which effectively provide multiple veto opportunities.” Fighting and rebel groups are also obstacles.
The United Nations appealed for $6.5 billion on Monday to help 16 million people affected by the Syrian civil war, including millions made hungry and homeless by the conflict soon entering its fourth year. The world body estimates about a quarter of a million Syrians are living under siege as winter bites, most of them encircled by government forces, but also including 45,000 in two towns in the north that are besieged by anti-Assad rebels.
A binding Security Council resolution could formally oblige the authorities to let aid agencies into areas like the Damascus suburbs and the old city of Homs, where local doctors say children are dying of malnutrition. But divisions between Western powers, backing the rebels, and Russia, have paralysed the world body over Syria since the conflict began in 2011.
Lack of access for independent agencies makes it hard to verify food and medical supplies in many areas. But opposition activists have posted video of the bodies of several skeletal children who local doctors say died of malnutrition.
What the West is Using the UN for this Time
Sources in the investigation team said that Mahmoud confessed to receiving around $2.2 million from Khaled Diab, a Qatar Red Crescent official. He was then to hand the money over to a Lebanese cleric identified as O.O., born in 1983 and affiliated with Muslims Without Borders, in the Bekaa village of Bar Elias.
“Through the cleric, Mahmoud was able to acquire 30 RPG launchers for $900,000 and 300 shells for $300,000, which were then transferred to Syria by a smuggler known as Anwar or his nom de guerre Abu Salah.” The smuggler then handed over the weapons to the Syrian national known as Abu Abdullah in the Damascus countryside.
Mahmoud also bought 100 Kalashnikovs and an ammunitions cache for $40,000 from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. The source added that Mahmoud entered the refugee camp with the Syrian national Mohammad Abdullah, known as Abu Hamza, under the guise of distributing humanitarian aid to refugees from Syria.