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Tasnim Nazeer

Stop letting Assad commit war crimes with impunity

Idlib is home to 3 million Syrians, many of them displaced from inside Syria [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 12 June, 2019

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Comment: Assad and his backers should be held to account for their war crimes against innocent Syrians, writes Tasnim Nazeer.
Bashar Al-Assad's despicable targeted bombings on civilians in Syria is surely testament to the fact that this war is a crime against humanity. 

Since last April, bombing and shelling of the Idlib province and neighbouring areas by the Syrian regime and its ally, Russia, have killed more than 
300 people and displaced more than 200,000.

Regime attacks have intensified in recent weeks despite the negotiation of a 
truce deal by Moscow and Turkey in 2018, enabling fears of an unprecedented catastrophe in a war which has already claimed the lives of 500,000 innocent civilians.

In June, Syria and Russia intensified their month-long bombardment with deadly air raids and artillery fire they say targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate whose fighters have taken control of the area. But these attacks cost the lives of 272 people over the last month, including 67 children - destroying their homes, hospitals and civil defence centres.

This brutal war being waged by Assad is founded on a desperate attempt to hold onto power, whatever the human cost may be. Where is the international outrage and the immediate action that could put an end to the suffering of thousands of innocent civilans having to bear the brunt of this brutal offensive?

Many civilians have been targeted through systematic bombings of hospitals, residential areas, markets and the infrastructure in the town of Idlib and nearby areas, killing dozens. Assad and his backer Russia have been relentless in their attacks attempting to break the will of the people living in rebel-held areas in order to put heightened pressure on them to flee.

Assad's free pass to strike civilians with impunity is a disgrace and should not be tolerated

According to UN official Ursula Mueller, two dozen hospitals have been attacked since 30 April, and 270,000 people have been driven towards the border with Turkey. Many are living in the open, "with some living under trees or plastic sheeting on bare patches of land," according to a report from the Washington Post.

Idlib is home to some 
3 million people, and Syrian NGOs have described the latest round of attacks as triggering mass displacement of civilians, creating a worsening crisis with daily massacres.

This has spurred a humanitarian catastrophe of an unprecedented nature for civilians in Syria. The tens of thousands of displaced Syrians living in Idlib will now be forced to flee elsewhere, causing further suffering and instability.

The war has already cost hundreds and thousands of lives since it began 2011, and has left millions displaced, yet the bloodshed continues in Assad's ruthless attempts to secure control.

Mohammad Zahed al-Masri of the Alliance of Syrian NGOs quite rightly states that, "The entire world is watching the massacre that is taking place and letting it pass in silence."

Given that the people of Syria are facing such a horrific crisis, the Trump administration has remained deafeningly silent.

President Trump issued just a 
single tweet regarding the latest attacks, but unsurprisingly failed to take further action in halting further attacks on Idlib.

A sense of general international fatigue appears to have taken hold when it comes to Syria, and the war crimes that have taken place there, despite years of 
pleas from civilians for more support.

Assad's free pass to strike civilians with impunity is a disgrace and should not be tolerated. Our leaders must speak up against the injustices that civilians are forced to endure and recognise that every life, however far away, is precious.

Read more: Syria Weekly: How Russia and Assad declared war on civilians

Assad and his backers should be held to account for the war crimes imposed on innocent civilians, and put on trial for breaking international laws and for their numerous violations of human rights.

Peace can never be restored until we take a stand, and those in power take the initiative to act. What is the point of our elected leaders if they are unwilling to protect the lives others?

Syria and Syrians have suffered far too long, and the time has come to deal with the catastrophic war, and end to the suffering of those most in need.

Tasnim Nazeer is an award-winning journalist, author, and Universal Peace Federation Ambassador. She has written for Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Middle East Eye, CNN, BBC, and others. She was awarded the FIPP the global network of media Rising Stars in Media Award 2018.

Follow her on twitter: @tasnimnazeer1

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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