Era of impunity in Syria must end
The international community must not let the sheer volume of attacks numb them to the situation
Two children, a five-year-old little girl and a 12-year-old boy, suffocated to death after Bashar al-Assad’s regime executed a chlorine barrel bombing attack in their neighborhood of Zubaidia, located in embattled Aleppo, on Wednesday night. Their mother died along with them.
Two days later on Friday, air strikes bombarded a hospital servicing children and women in Kafr Hamra, killing at least two people. Who will be held responsible for carrying out the latest massacre of a Syrian mother and her children? Which cowards will be tried for bombing yet another hospital from the air?
Each day brings a new horror in Syria but the international community must not let the sheer volume of deadly attacks numb them to the situation, which is worsening by the day.
A number of important voices have called on the United States to act to protect Syrian civilians in the recent term, including more recently 15 doctors in eastern Aleppo. In a powerful letter to President Obama, the doctors said that every 17 hours a medical facility is targeted in an attack. They pleaded with the US to create a “permanent lifeline to Aleppo.”
Referring perhaps to the tenuous gains made by a coalition of rebels – including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham – that allowed them to break the government’s siege of eastern Aleppo on August 6 - the doctors noted it is “only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops, hunger takes hold and hospitals’ supplies run completely dry.”
At the same time, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) launched a campaign they’ve titled #SaveSyria, urging the international community to do precisely that. In a video showing a number of interviews with Syrian doctors, the museum noted that the regime continues to carry out crimes against humanity, indicating that the “spread and continuation of these crimes could amount to genocide.”
The region cannot afford to see what the result of ignoring Syrian civilians’ needs – as well as the Assad regime’s humiliating abuses – looks like in the years to comeBrooklyn Middleton
Such calls underscore the consensus among many that the US must lead in saving Syrians from death and aid a population that has now been terrorized – first by the regime, then by ISIS and al-Qaeda – for years.
While the fight against ISIS continues, the US must also begin holding the Assad regime and Russia accountable for every single brutal, illegal attack they carry out; the era of impunity in Syria – where nearly half a million people have been killed, health facilities and hospitals repeatedly targeted from the air, and where chlorine attacks continue unabated – must end.
It is despicable that the US cites the chemical weapons deal it brokered as a success when civilians are still being gassed to death. And it is not acceptable to note the complex geopolitics of the conflict as justification for not acting to protect civilians. The same excuse was used in 2012 prior to the massive Sarin attack in Eastern Ghouta and long before Russia directly intervened.
Protecting Syrian civilians must become a key part of the US strategy and quickly. The region cannot afford to see what the result of ignoring Syrian civilians’ needs – as well as the Assad regime’s humiliating abuses – looks like in the years to come.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.