Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Blameless Syrian Regime

"Developments on the ground show how the Assad regime continues to blatantly ignore international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, especially those related to the use of chemical weapons."
Syrian National Council 

"Just before midnight, helicopters dropped five explosive barrels containing cylinders of chlorine and shards of metal on neighbourhoods in Saraqeb."
"We suspect it was chlorine because of the smell and the nature of the injuries - suffocation and burning, red eyes. Members of the civil defense brought them all to the nearby hospital."
Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian Civil Defense group
Syria's cessation of hostilities, explained
"The Kremlin . . . denied that this incident took place at all. It said that reports of chemical barrel bombs amount to an unfounded information attack, lies essentially."
"Because the location of this alleged chemical attack is very close to the site of the helicopter downing … the Kremlin is very keen to void the assumption that has been made in some circles that it is involved in some way in any kind of retaliatory or punitive response to that incident."
Al Jazeera reporter from Beirut, Lebanon
Aleppo, once the economic engine of Syria and its largest city, no longer resembles what it once was. That part of the city still being held by the rebels is under siege. Both Russia and the regime of Bashar al Assad claim that there are corridors open for civilians to leave, but the situation is somewhat differently observed by those who say that the people starving for lack of food, ill and unable to obtain medication, are too shell-shocked and fearful to attempt to leave.

The regime is hoping to starve out the rebels, and when some among them do appear, broken and starving themselves, while surrendering their weapons to the Syrian military, their fate is predictable Even before, in the earlier years of the insurrection, whenever the regime was able to capture rebels they were incarcerated, tortured and murdered.

Syrian Opposition gunmen surrender to the Syrian army in Aleppo (02 August 2016)
  Photographs were released on Tuesday by state media purporting to show opposition gunmen surrendering to the Syrian army in Aleppo -- EPA

The regime has eastern Aleppo in a stranglehold of desperation, where food is no longer available, markets are void of produce, disposable medical devices are being re-used and people are desperate for deliverance from their living hell. An estimated 30 people a day die in Aleppo, mostly from bombs, some likely from privation and starvation and untreated chronic medical conditions. Children experiencing this deadly existence have lost their childhood, their educational years, family members.

And now, the Syrian regime has announced to the world that the rebels have attacked civilians with gas bombs. Whereas in the real world a number of chlorine gas canisters have been released in bomb form upon the cowering people of north-western Idlib province. In fact, in the very district where a Russian helicopter was shot down by rebel forces, with the death of all five aboard the  helicopter, three crew and two officers.

They represented, if you can believe it, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation in Syria. Reconciliation as in ferrying humanitarian goods to the starving people of Aleppo. What a relief, a helicopter full of food, not bombs. Verification of the cargo has been absent, it must be taken on trust that what has been described as a mission of mercy was thanklessly rewarded by the death of the missionaries involved.

The rebel supply routes closed off, the grip of the iron net grows ever more taut. Siege and starvation as a very effective weapon of war. Easily as effective as barrel bombs, as chemical bombs. This noble nation with its long-suffering leader whose people have turned against his rule despite his compassionate love for them has been destroyed, most of its majority Sunni population displaced, millions of refugees created, desperate to escape the compassion of their Alawite Shiite president.
A Syrian rescue service operating in rebel-held territory says a helicopter dropped containers of toxic gas overnight on a town close to where a Russian military helicopter was shot down hours earlier. Reuters' Mana Rabiee reports.
One eyewitness to the arrival of the gas-affected Syrians was a photographer who took photographs of the injured. He described victims suffering with classical gas poisoning symptoms like watering eyes, spasms, sweating, coughing and breathing difficulties.

While Islamist groups like al-Nusra have been bombing regime-held parts of Aleppo, neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo have been fired at by regime forces for over 80 consecutive days, backed by Russian air power. The Kremlin, allied with a regime that thinks nothing of loosing gas bombs on women and children, has stated that it is engaged in providing humanitarian relief for the siege-embattled population. 
While no group has yet taken credit for the lethal shooting-down of the Russian helicopter, plainly there is a problem of belief in the humanitarian impulse stated by a Russian source which sees nothing amiss in allying itself with a regime without regard for its own population and which, with its compulsion to vengeance has destroyed its own nation's heritage and infrastructure.

A thick smogs hangs over Aleppo as residents light fires to prevent pilots from bombing their homes.
At least 6,000 people have been either killed or injured in the 80-day period of constant bombardment, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The regime, however, paints itself in an entirely different light, claiming the second gas attack was the responsibility of "terrorist groups", killing five people in the old town of Aleppo: "Five civilians were killed and eight others suffered suffocation due to a terrorist attack with shells containing poisonous gas", reported the city's health director Mohamad Hazouri.

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