Monday, December 17, 2018
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End Syria's Lingering Agony

End Syria's Lingering Agony

Tribune News Network

'SYRIA is bleeding and the world is sleeping', read placards carried by activists during a protest in India's New Delhi the other day against the bloodbath in the blighted country. Rallies have been held in Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia as well, to name a few countries, in an attempt to awaken the sleeping conscience of the international community and shame it into action to stop the horrors being perpetrated by a murderous Assad regime in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta and the province of Idlib. Shockingly, however, the response of the world powers has been muted at the best, not going beyond ineffectual calls and tabling of failed resolutions in the United Nations Security Council seeking to rein in the regime.
More than 800 civilians including 170 children have been killed since Russia backed regime forces and allied militias launched on February 18 a fierce assault on the besieged enclave outside Damascus where over 400,000 people are trapped and starving. Merciless bombings have reduced houses to piles of rubble forcing the residents to seek refuge in cellars.
With hospitals flattened or running short of life-saving drugs, trauma kits, medical staff and blood supply, most of the wounded whose numbers keep swelling by the hours or even minutes are left at the mercy of the God. Activists and NGOs warn the situation is dire, with food and other essentials including medicines running short as the army intensifies its air strikes. The most brutal assault of the eight-year civil war has sparked outrage but little action from the international community.
The Syrian regime is also accused of carrying out chemical attacks on Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere causing deaths of hundreds of civilians including children. UN investigations into the deadly incidents"unequivocally and objectively"point to use of sarin. A truce declared by Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, that allows five-hour daily pause in fighting, has been marred by repeated strikes by the regime forces. A UN Security Council resolution has been unsuccessful in implementing a 30-day ceasefire to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilians under siege.
The human tragedy unfolding in the besieged enclave has prompted the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres to call eastern Ghouta a"hell on earth" where Assad is slaughtering civilians with impunity as the world looks on. In a statement on the grim situation in Ghouta, UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said:"Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed. This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable."The siege of Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region has been marked by various war crimes by government forces, including starvation as a method of warfare, UN human rights investigators say in their latest report.
More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by Syria's civil war which started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
With no sign of meaningful Western pressure to halt the savage regime onslaught and no concrete steps being taken towards a political solution to the crisis as advocated by Qatar, the war in Syria is likely to drag on, prolonging the suffering of the Syrians. Syria's agony may not end until the major players give up their geopolitical ambitions and come together to find a peaceful way out of the conflict that is turning a bleeding Syria into a mass grave of innocent people and graveyard of humanity. Is the world listening?

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