Tuesday 4 April 2017

Another Chemical Massacre in Syria

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Earlier today, a chemical gas attack perpetrated by the Assad regime jets or its allies hit Khan Sheikhun in Idlib Province, Syria. The attack – the deadliest of its kind since 2013 – has resulted in the deaths of nearly 100 people and approximately 400 wounded (many of them are young children). Since the chemical massacre in Ghouta in 2013 where the regime had crossed a ‘red line’ it has orchestrated numerous chemical attacks with today’s being amongst the most fatal.

This is no longer an issue of condemning the Assad regime; the time for that has long gone. The onus is on the international community and the deafening silence we hear from the West. Nikki Haley the US ambassador to the UN confirmed the suspicions that for the US (and the West by extension) the removal of the dictator Assad is not a priority. And nor is the UK standing firm against him either. Remarks such as David Cameron calling the Syrian tragedy akin to a holocaust are not echoed by his successor Theresa May. Moreover, EU governments have not imposed sanctions against Russia for its actions in Syria and it is selling aircrafts to Iran which civilian airlines to re-supply the regime with fighters and arms.

It is even more embarrassing that as this is being written final preparations are being made to host a conference tomorrow on ‘counter-terrorism’ in London on British soil. This so called conference is being run by a pro Assad group and will unfortunately be hosting high ranking ecclesiastical figures such as the former Archbishop of Canterbury. It is even more concerning that two Syrian ministers coming from a government led by a war criminal as well as the Iranian ambassador to the UK will be speaking at this conference. It is deeply troubling that a conference such as this, which runs contrary to perceived wisdom on the Syrian conflict, is being organised and hosted in the UK. It is likely to amount to little more than an effort to whitewash the regime’s actions.

And unfortunately the role of Russia is still overlooked as their systematic bombing of medical facilities and humanitarian aid convoys as well as their ultimate support for the Assad killing machine is not relenting. Russia is still providing legal cover in the form of UNSC veto for the Assad regime’s crimes. And as mentioned many times before, serious pressure needs to be placed on their government to put an end to this and look beyond the Assad regime’s future in Syria.

The Syrian people feel that the political solution is failing and history is repeating itself. The oft quoted mantra of ‘never again’ is taking place again. UN Resolution 2218 which was drafted in 2013 to warn against future chemical attacks states that noncompliance with this Resolution will lead to a Chapter VII action and the use of force. When international commitments are so flagrantly disobeyed the words of diplomats ring hollow. The international community has failed the Syrian people time and time again. When will it finally champion their cause and make ‘never again’ a reality?

Words are not enough. Shame is not enough. Action is needed to enforce the aforementioned UN Resolution and to protect civilians.


Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, Rethink Rebuild Society

Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal, Syrian Association of Yorkshire

Mazen Ejbaei, Help 4Syria UK

Amjad Selo, Syrian Society of Nottinghamshire

Dr. Abdullah Hanoun, Syrian Community in the South West

Dr. Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society

Dr. Farouk Nahas, Syrian Solidarity Campaign

Dr. Mohammad Tammo, Kurds House

Dr. Amer Masri, Scotland4Syria

Clara Connolly, Syria Solidarity UK

Dr. Hassan D Wazait, Syrian British Medical Society

Dr. Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice for Syria