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UN Syria Envoy: ‘Devil Is in the Details’ of Russian Aleppo Proposal

News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force.

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Boys read a leaflet dropped by the Syrian army over opposition-held Aleppo districts asking residents to cooperate with the military and calling on fighters to surrender, July 28, 2016. Image source: Reuters
  • News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force
  • An estimated 300,000 people are trapped in Aleppo
  • De Mistura said he is seriously concerned about the welfare of the people of Aleppo, which has become a de facto besieged city

U.N. officials are studying a new Russian military proposal to establish four corridors to allow civilians and rebels to leave the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force. De Mistura said he and his colleagues were taken by surprise.

Image Source: www.un.org. Image Source: www.un.org
Image Source: www.un.org. Image Source: www.un.org

“It is… premature for me and others to actually make any comments until we have further details on what has been and is the Russian proposal or initiative,” he said.

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Under the Russian proposal, civilians reportedly will be allowed to leave Aleppo through three routes and rebels through a fourth. De Mistura has confirmed that several Russian and, probably American, military experts are on their way to Geneva.

“Most likely in order to discuss the so-called devils in the details,” he said. “… I also want to be able to have my colleagues from the humanitarian side to analyze what are the better information they may be getting on how this Russian initiative fits with a humanitarian initiative.”

300,000 people are struck in Aleppo. Image Source: www.un.org
300,000 people are struck in Aleppo. Image Source: www.un.org

An estimated 300,000 people are trapped in Aleppo.Government forces are encircling the city, making it impossible for aid agencies to bring in food, medicine and other essential supplies.

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De Mistura said he is seriously concerned about the welfare of the people of Aleppo, which has become a de facto besieged city. He says only two to three weeks of food supplies remain.

He warned the clock is ticking before Aleppo becomes a major humanitarian besieged area.

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This AI System Can Evade Censorship In India, China and Kazakhstan

Researchers develop an AI tool that evades censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan

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(AI)-based system automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan.

The tool, called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers said would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers are scheduled to introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on Thursday.

“With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland in the US and senior author of the paper.

“Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them,” Levin said.\

censorship, AI
This AI system that evades censorship is called ‘Geneva’. Pixabay

To demonstrate that Geneva worked in the real world against undiscovered censorship strategies, the team ran Geneva on a computer in China with an unmodified Google Chrome browser installed.

By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user was able to browse free of keyword censorship.

The researchers also successfully evaded censorship in India, which blocks forbidden URLs, and Kazakhstan, which was eavesdropping on certain social media sites at the time, said a statement from the University of Maryland.

All information on the Internet is broken into data packets by the sender’s computer and reassembled by the receiving computer.

One prevalent form of Internet censorship works by monitoring the data packets sent during an Internet search.

The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as “Tiananmen Square” in China) or prohibited domain names (such as “Wikipedia” in many countries).

When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, it modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognise forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection.

Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of AI that Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard Internet browser.

Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code.

Censorship
By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user is able to browse free of keyword censorship. Pixabay

Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets.

The tool evolves its genetic code through successive attempts (or generations). With each generation, Geneva keeps the instructions that work best at evading censorship and kicks out the rest.

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Geneva mutates and cross breeds its strategies by randomly removing instructions, adding new instructions, or combining successful instructions and testing the strategy again.

Through this evolutionary process, Geneva is able to identify multiple evasion strategies very quickly, said the study. (IANS)