Over the past week, continuous airstrikes have been carried out by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies in North-Western Syria. The U.N. has called for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict, asking for a truce, to spare the lives of civilians. Assad claims they are fighting the last of the oppositions’ stronghold on the ground. Although some state this is the final push that will end the near 9-year crisis, the violence has not ended, and civilians are the ones suffering yet again.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 152,000 people were forced to flee rebel-held areas in northwest Syria between April 29 and May 5. The U.N. agency also reported that airstrikes on Idlib carried out by the Assad regime and its allies have targeted 12 medical centres, killing more than 80 civilians and wounding in excess of 300 individuals. OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that the 27 deaths and 31 injured on 4 May were only “the numbers that we have been able to fully verify, and this includes many women and children”. She also stated that “Yesterday, on 6 May, Government forces started to advance on the ground and captured villages from non-State armed groups in northern Hama,”. “Additionally, non-State groups carried out counter attacks in Latakia, so the violence is very much escalating.”
Whilst last September a ceasefire had been agreed in the area, this seems to be the most aggressive and destructive airstrike in Syria at the present time. The brutal airstrikes are not simply directed at the opposing side, but instead peaceful civilians who for the past eight years have been faced with the loss of their loved ones and their homes in this fierce conflict. Violence is not the answer for the conflict, with the civil war ongoing and different international support such as Russia involved, peace does not seem to be on the agenda of those in power. Instead, there is a mission of destruction and conflict.
The civil war in Syria began after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, where protesters in Syria demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. His family have held the presidency in Syria since 1971. After April 2011, when government forces fired on civilians, ongoing violence ensued. By 2016, the United Nations had identified 13.5 million Syrians who needed humanitarian assistance, of which 6 million were and remain internally displaced, and 5 million had left the war zone. Since September last year, at least 323,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Syria’s north-west, according to the U.N. humanitarian coordinating office. The civil war is causing one of the biggest movements of people in migration history, and yet the fighting continues. It is not those in power who are affected the most, it is the Syrian people, and what the latest air strikes demonstrate is that the war will continue until there is total destruction and one winner emerges.
Whilst the people are being told this conflict is ending and this is the final push, the humanitarian crisis the civil war has created will mark Syrians for years to come. What is scary is that the international powers and hatred between opposition parties will not spare the life of its civilians, whom they so wish to rule. Hopefully, the end of the conflict is in sight, drawing to a close the most violent civil war of our generation. Until then, continuous humanitarian assistance is required in the face of the harsh air strikes ongoing against Syria’s own civilians.