A message from Syria: When will the world stop the tyrant?

A message from Syria: Don't give our murderer more escape chances
Children get treatment at a hospital after a suspected chemical gas attack in Idlib, Syria Anadolu Agency

After the latest massacre by Assad regime against Syrian civilians in Idlib, in which more than 60 were killed, Raed Al Saleh, the head of the Syria Civil Defence or White Helmets, sent a message to the world saying that six years of death and violence in Syria are enough and that the world should move to stop the tyrant.

More than 60 civilians were killed in Syria in a new chemical attack carried out by Assad regime’s air force on the rebel-held Idlib province, doctors and monitoring groups have said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack caused many people to choke or faint, and some had foam coming from their mouths, citing medical sources who described the symptoms as possible signs of a gas attack. All the children were under the age of eight.

The Edlib Media Centre (EMC), a pro-opposition group, posted images that were widely shared on social media, showing people being treated by medics and what appeared to be dead bodies, many of them children.

“This morning, at 6:30 a.m., warplanes targeted Khan Sheikhoun with gases, believed to be sarin and chlorine,” said Mounzer Khalil, head of Idlib’s health authority. The attack had killed more than 50 people and wounded 300, he said.

“Most of the hospitals in Idlib province are now overflowing with wounded people,” Khalil told a news conference in Idlib.

The air strikes that hit the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the south of rebel-held Idlib, killed at least 58 people, said the Observatory.

Khan Sheikhun houses thousands of refugees from the nearby province of Hama who have fled the fighting there.

Locals said the attack began in the early morning, when they heard planes in the sky followed by a series of loud explosions after which people very quickly began to show symptoms. They said they could not identify the planes. Both Syrian and Russian jets have bombed the area before.

Opposition activists and the AFP news agency, citing one of its journalists on the scene, later said a rocket had slammed into a hospital where the victims were being treated, bringing rubble down on medics as they struggled to deal with victims.

The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets – a rescue service that operates in opposition areas of Syria – said jets struck one of its centers in the area and the nearby medical point.

This attack is the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in the rebel-held Ghouta area near the capital in August 2013. Western states said the Assad regime was responsible for the 2013 attack but it denied the charge.

Stop the tyrant

Raed Al Saleh, the head of the Syria Civil Defence or White Helmets, urged the world to move and help in ending the crisis in Syria after the documentary about the White Helmets won an oscar prize.

However, the political meetings that were held since then, and since the start of the Syrian crisis, didn’t add anything or at least help in decreasing the violence, because the global powers didn’t take any real measure to stop Assad’s war machine.

After the deadly incident today, Raed wrote again calling the world to fulfill its commitments, protect the civilians and abandon Assad.

“Today, European ministers meet in Brussels for a conference “to turn the page and start the political transition, the reconciliation process and the reconstruction of Syria,” Saleh wrote.

“Yet only this morning we have witnessed a suspected chemical weapon attack – one of the most horrifying in six years of this bloody conflict. At least 60 civilians were gassed to death and more than 300 are still being treated; many are in a critical condition. Members of my team sought to wash the deadly chemical from the eyes of the affected children. Soon afterward our center in the town was destroyed, along with all of our life-saving equipment. Then a local hospital where victims were being treated was also bombed. On Sunday, the largest hospital in the region was also bombed, again after treating children affected by Assad’s chemical attacks. Are there no red lines?” Saleh added.

Saleh went further to say that Syria has no future under Assad’ role, the one who turned Syria into rubble and killed hundreds of thousands just to stay in power.

“No one wants to rebuild Syria more than the White Helmets do. When so much of our country has been turned into rubble, and almost half of our compatriots forced from their homes, of course, we wish that the work to reestablish schools and hospitals and to build the peace in Syria could get underway. But how can it?,” Saled asked.

“The central architects of the destruction, the Assad regime, continue their bombing campaign against Syrian civilians. As humanitarians and civil society groups, we are targets, and often victims. In the last few days our colleague Dr. Ali Darwish was among those killed as he treated the victims of an illegal chemical weapons attack in his hospital in Hama, and Sameer Algohoosh, a volunteer with the White Helmets in east Ghouta, was killed by an airstrike.”

“Doctors, like the volunteer rescue workers from the White Helmets, are called “terrorists” and singled out by the regime. Their families face reprisals from the regime for working in areas outside of their control. Systematic torture programs and extrajudicial killings continue in the regime’s network of secret dungeons where tens of thousands of our countrymen, women, and children still languish. Residential areas are still pummelled with barrel bombs, missile strikes and repeated chemical weapons attacks. How can anybody seriously talk about reconstruction in Syria while all this is happening?” Raed added.

Saleh said that Assad can’t be in any case a partner in rebuilding Syria or decideing its future, after all the crimes he did against the Syrians in the past six years.

“The perpetrators of these war crimes and flagrant breaches of international humanitarian laws can never be credible partners in reconstruction. After all, these are the people who in all likelihood ordered the deliberate targeting of a UN aid convoy in October,” Saleh said.

“The very same people who are currently blocking food and medical assistance from reaching more than a million of their own people, and who are criminalizing our staff at the White Helmets for daring to treat the sick and wounded who live in non-regime-controlled areas. The truth is that they should be facing prosecution, not the prospect of possible European taxpayer support.”

“I am therefore horrified at reports in the news, and from personal briefings that I have received, that certain leading European politicians want to consider a deal with the Assad regime. It is beyond belief that the perpetrators of most of the violence could effectively be rewarded, and even propped up, for their crimes,” Saled added.

“We – like other Syrian civil society and humanitarian leaders – will not have a voice at the Brussels conference, but if we were in the room we would tell European leaders they should not ignore Assad’s crimes, but instead stand up for basic principles of humanity.”

“Until an inclusive political transition is underway in Syria, until the bombs stop raining down on schools and hospitals, until independent monitors are allowed unhindered access to the regime’s detention centers, and the violence, sieges and forced displacement are ended, Europe should not countenance offering a single euro of reconstruction funding,” Saleh finalized.

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.