Syrian journalist asks Info Minister: ‘Who is dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo?”
January 23, 2014
NOWHERE TO RUN: Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi emerged from the opening session of the Geneva II talks Wednesday to find a massive crowd of journalists, and not of the usual state media variety, awaiting him.
“Who is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS), Minister?” asked Rami al-Jaraah, a journalist for the ANA New Media Association.
Clearly not in the mood to provide any information, the minister pretended he could not hear al-Jaraah, although they were standing only feet apart.
“Who is dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo? Who is fighting ISIS in A-Raqqa?” the journalist asked repeatedly as al-Zoubi looked uncomfortable and refused to answer.
Al-Jaraah continued to push al-Zoubi about ISIS (an al-Qaeda affiliate) and barrel bombs, do-it-yourself incendiaries that tend to inflict indiscriminate destruction, and which the regime has recently deployed over a number of populated areas in Syrian cities.
Al-Jaraah repeated the questions 16 times. Al-Zoubi simply accelerated his pace to exit the venue, refusing to even turn his head toward the correspondent. Another reporter added to al-Jaraah’s question, asking: “Why don’t you attack ISIS headquarters in a-Raqqa? I can provide you with coordinates for their bases so you can shell them… Or does the regime not shell anyone but the Syrian people?” This question, too, went unanswered.
ANA New Media Association, a Cairo-based organization that works with citizen journalists, titled its video of the exchange “The Syrian Information Minister flees from providing an honest answer at the Geneva II conference.”
The Geneva II conference commenced Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland with opening addresses from the participants, and will relocate to Geneva Friday for the first round of negotiations between the regime and opposition delegations. The conference aims to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis and set in motion a transitional period overseen by an interim governing body.
Meanwhile, Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s permanent delegate to the United Nations, responded during a press conference on Wednesday in Montreux to a question regarding the release of some 50,000 photos indicating that 11,000 prisoners had been systematically tortured and killed while in government prisons. Al-Jaafari did not deny that torture had occurred in Syria, but ascribed it to “individual errors” and quickly asserted that such torture is present in most countries.