A missile attack last weekend in northern Syria left a hospital in ruins and further casualties in a residential area. But these types of attacks have become less common in Syria. Although this civil war remains among the most devastating global conflicts, the number of fatalities has decreased over the past couple of years, and in 2020 in particular.
What prompted this decline? The ACLED data on fatalities in Syria reveals a sudden decline after March 5, 2020, and a relatively low level of violence since. That’s the date on which Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to a cease-fire in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in Syria.… Seguir leyendo »
The explosion of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile in southern Israel on 22 April, followed by Israeli attacks around the northern city of Latakia on 5 May, were only the latest episodes of the shadow war that Israel and Iran have been fighting in war-ravaged Syria for several years. They will not be the last.
Neither side wants these occasional flareups to grow into a fully fledged confrontation. But the risk of escalation is real due to potential miscalculations or technical errors in both sides’ attempts to achieve tactical gains.
The involvement of Hezbollah, Tehran’s most important non-state ally, in the Syrian theatre carries a further risk that comparatively low-level altercations in Syria may spill over into Lebanon and trigger a destructive conflict between the heavily armed Shia group and Israel.… Seguir leyendo »
While many are vaguely aware of it, I'm not sure most people could tell you how or why the Syrian war started. Some likely assume the origin was about religion or ethnicity or maybe about territory or terrorism.
In some ways, it eventually became about all of that, but it started much more simply, when, against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, 15 boys were arrested in the nondescript border town of Dara'a after anti-regime graffiti was sprayed on a high school wall. They were imprisoned, and horrifically tortured, sparking the outrage of their small community and observant human rights activists.… Seguir leyendo »
In early 2016, the first time a friend told Gayle Tzemach Lemmon the story of Kurdish Women's Projection Units in northeastern Syria -- also known as the YPJ -- she had two reactions. The first was fascination: How had no one else told the tale of these women, aligned with US forces (and later provided with support by the Trump administration) who were fighting the Islamic State -- a group which routinely kidnapped, raped and murdered women?
The second reaction, when an American friend of Lemmon's who had been working with the women's units, urged her, "Come on, you have to see it," was: "No."… Seguir leyendo »
Ten years after it began, Syria’s horrific civil war has faded from the headlines. Reluctant to get involved, US and European politicians, and the western public, mostly look the other way. Russia plays a pivotal role, but on the wrong side. Interventionist regional states such as Turkey, Israel, and Iran prioritise selfish, short-term interests. The result is stalemate – a semi-chilled conflict characterised by sporadic violence, profound pain and strategic indifference.
Yet this epic failure to halt the war continues to have far-reaching, negative consequences for international security, democratic values and the rule of law, as well as for Syria’s citizens.… Seguir leyendo »
“They sent us directly to the front lines. The situation is terrible. Terrible. There is fighting every day. We are charged with storming. There is no rest. There are many men missing and we can’t get to them,” explained Abdel Basit, a Syrian mercenary speaking from Azerbaijan (for their safety, I have altered the names of all living Syrians in this report). What made this former Syrian rebel, displaced from his home in Rastan, in rural Homs, decide to sign up to fight in a foreign country? His father, who is still in Rastan, had to take out a large loan because of a family emergency, but “his salary is not enough [to pay it off].… Seguir leyendo »
A chemical weapons confrontation is escalating in Syria, after an international watchdog agency concluded this month that Damascus used chemical weapons, lied to investigators and violated its commitment to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria has 90 days to respond — or face a referral to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment.
Since 2013, the independent Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), often in coordination with experts from the United Nations, has led efforts to collect evidence on the use of toxic gas on civilian targets in Syria. Most recently, the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in March 2017, and thus lied about dismantling its entire stockpile.… Seguir leyendo »
Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the bravery and selflessness of health-care workers who -- at great risk to their own health -- are on the front lines of this once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic, celebrated with nightly cheers ringing from Manhattan to Milan.
It has also laid bare the contrast with decimated health systems in places like Syria, where doctors have, for far too long, been targeted with violence and where hospitals have been bombed.
The truth of this pandemic is that it cannot be defeated anywhere unless it is defeated everywhere. This is why an attack on health care anywhere is an attack on health care everywhere -- and why the targeting of health workers and their facilities globally must be brought to an end and the perpetrators held accountable.… Seguir leyendo »
On a recent visit to Libya, I met a family living in an improvised shelter in a displaced persons camp east of Tripoli. One of the tens of thousands Libyan families uprooted by war, the family of seven was living in a room barely 20 paces long and half as wide. A clothesline, a pile of mattresses, a hot plate and the stench of body odor filled the room. Outside, they faced a shortage of potable water and abusive taunts from locals.
The spread of the novel coronavirus will have a devastating effect on the Middle East’s communities of refugees and migrants.… Seguir leyendo »
Syria reported its first covid-19 cases a week ago — and has now reported its first coronavirus deaths. But many analysts say the total of cases is much higher, noting independent reports of coronavirus-like cases in Damascus, Tartus, Latakia, Homs and Deir-Ezzor.
How does a country engaged in civil war for the past decade face the coronavirus challenge? The United Nations special envoy called for an immediate cease-fire to prevent an outbreak of the virus in the conflict-ridden country — but no single authority can implement a cease-fire. And Syria’s fragmented and limited health services may leave many regions with little or no outside assistance to fight covid-19 outbreaks.… Seguir leyendo »
While Washington's focus is on coronavirus and the race for the White House, a devastating humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Syria's last rebel-held region. It's time for the US political establishment to do something about it.
On March 15, the Syrian civil war will enter its 10th year. In the days ahead of this sad anniversary, the US announced Tuesday an additional $108 million aid package to provide essentials like food, medical care and safe drinking water to the estimated 3 million people trapped in the province.
However, not only is the $108 million too little to make a major difference, but President Donald Trump's administration has not put forward a plan that will enable effective delivery of this aid, given Russia and China's December veto of a UN Security Council plan on cross-border aid to Syria.… Seguir leyendo »
While Russia appears to have prevailed in its latest showdown with Turkey in Syria—helping Damascus to blunt Turkey’s operations around Idlib and securing an advantageous cease-fire afterward—Moscow’s longer-term strategy for Syria has become murkier after the crisis. This uncertainty is primarily due to Russia’s new oil price war with Saudi Arabia, which seems to strike at one of the pillars of Moscow’s approach by undermining the prospects for Saudi financial support for Syrian reconstruction and raises new questions about the Kremlin’s motives and objectives.
Western analysts have long generally believed that Russia’s goal in Syria has been to force a political settlement to the fighting that would guarantee President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule, at least for the time being.… Seguir leyendo »
I am a Syrian American, and I have an urgent message. You do not have the full story on Syria. The truth will shake you to the bone.
The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, is committing genocide.
Assad has deliberately erased at least 200,000 Syrian civilians from existence. Most of them died for the “crime” of sharing the same ethnicity, religion and neighborhood as pro-democracy protesters. It is true that the overwhelming majority of these victims come from a single ethno-religious group (Sunni Arabs), but this is not about religion. This is about a dictator who is willing to gas children to stay in power.… Seguir leyendo »
In recent months, the Syrian government has stepped up its assault on Idlib province, the last rebel-held area in the country. Turkey and Russia have implemented a fragile cease-fire, but the onslaught has already displaced nearly 1 million Syrians toward the Turkish border. As many as 3 million people are at risk of further displacement should the violence resume. While the latest battle makes it clear that the war is far from over, the Syrian government’s gains raise a pressing question: What is next for the 5.6 million Syrian refugees already in neighboring countries?
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has periodically issued plans for “durable solutions” to the Syrian refugee crisis since at least 2017.… Seguir leyendo »
The situation in Syria is catastrophic. The Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are bombarding the rebel-held enclave of Idlib, continuing their wholesale slaughter of civilians. Turkey, drawn into the conflict by the chaos along its border, is essentially at war with Damascus and, by extension, Moscow. Thousands of Syrian refugees are once again heading toward Europe, potentially destabilizing the situation there.
And yet, after nine years of war, the United States appears determined to continue ignoring what’s happening in Syria — even though there are strong incentives, both moral and strategic, to act.
As our NATO ally Turkey and Russia edge closer to a violent confrontation in northwestern Syria, the situation on the ground is getting grotesquely worse.… Seguir leyendo »
Si l’instabilité climatique représente l’une des menaces les plus importantes pour l’avenir de notre humanité, cette considération est principalement basée sur le fait que nous vivons sur une terre dont les éléments de survie (climat, ressources naturelles, etc.) sont interconnectés et leurs souffrances sont «transmissibles» à travers les continents, peu importent les distances. En tant que médecin, il m’est difficile de ne pas faire valoir la notion de la souffrance comme «un signal d’alarme» qui doit être pris au sérieux pour sauver l’ensemble du corps. Une évidence de la responsabilité partagée et indivisible qui fait des accords de Kyoto un espoir pour les générations à venir.… Seguir leyendo »
An airstrike killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib, in the north west of Syria, on 27 February, according to Turkish state media. The strike exacted the highest death toll upon the Turkish military in any single day’s action for more than two decades. Ankara mainly blamed the Syrian regime for the attack on what it called a two-story command headquarters, but hinted as well at Russian responsibility. Russia disclaimed direct involvement but appeared to excuse the attack, saying the Turkish soldiers were in the company of “terrorists”, implying that they were with Syrian rebels.
Whether the strike was deliberate or inadvertent, it is part of a series of increasingly bloody clashes among Turkey, the Syrian regime and Russia over Idlib.… Seguir leyendo »
L’inaction aussi a son prix et il est plus que temps d’en sortir car… Rappelons l’enchaînement qui a conduit au chaos qui s’installe aux frontières de l’Europe. En Syrie, malgré la France, Barack Obama n’avait pas voulu faire respecter les lignes rouges qu’il avait lui-même tracées à Bachar Al-Assad. Son successeur s’est ensuite largement retiré du Proche-Orient pendant que l’Europe décidait de ne pas agir seule. La Russie s’est engouffrée dans ce vide pour reprendre pied dans la région aux côtés des régimes de Damas et de Téhéran.
La Russie est redevenue acteur mondial pendant que les démocraties occidentales se repliaient et Vladimir Poutine a alors décidé d’en finir avec le conflit syrien.… Seguir leyendo »
You may not realize it from the news coverage, but we are witnessing one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history. Resurgent fighting and violence around Idlib, Syria, have produced the largest wave of human displacement in Syria’s nine-year civil war. But with the rapidly emerging global crisis related to the uncontrolled spread of the lethal new coronavirus, as well as the 2020 presidential election, these refugees and displaced civilians are simply not getting the attention this humanitarian catastrophe deserves.
All of this means more misery and danger for children who have been living under chronic instability and persistent disruption for close to a decade.… Seguir leyendo »
En Idlib se está desarrollando un nuevo desastre humanitario, uno de los peores de la crisis siria que, en casi una década, ha causado demasiados desastres para llevar la cuenta. El régimen sirio continúa su estrategia de reconquistar militarmente el país a cualquier precio, sin consideración hacia las consecuencias para los civiles sirios. Desde diciembre, sus operaciones en la zona noroeste han aumentado de intensidad, contando con el respaldo de la aviación rusa. Los incesantes ataques aéreos y el bombardeo con bombas de barril han obligado a casi un millón de sirios a huir en apenas unas semanas. Las infraestructuras de asistencia están saturadas.… Seguir leyendo »