Three years later Syria is Hell on earth. It has been three horrible, miserable, devastating, heart wrenching, long years since the majority of the Syrian people rose up to topple Assad from his lofty perch. He is still there and forces loyal to him continue to murder their way into infamy. To be fair it is not only Assad murdering with impunity it is also some of those fighting to oust him. The only people without blood on their hands are the civilians being murdered. Everyone else is guilty of some offense against humanity in this conflict
For the third year anniversary which is really a human catastrophe, a man made disaster, I wanted to write something really well, informative, and meaningful. But I have already done that as have many other activists, countless times. We have described numerous massacres of civilians at the hand of government thugs, or their counterparts fighting to depose Assad. We have already documented the more than 140,000 dead, and how they died. NGO's such as Human Rights Watch have documented the more than 60,000 rounded up and held in detention by the Assad regime. Others have documented those held by opposing forces. Torture centers, methods of torture and those who carry it out have all been documented. Types of weapons used, from cluster bombs to scud missiles to sarin gas to barrel bombs have all been identified and cataloged. I can go on here, but I think you get the point.
All that I can say for sure is that Syria is being slowly being bled to death, this once largely middle class country is in ruins. For the most part destroyed by the man who was obligated to protect it. Instead he is willing to destroy everything in order to protect his authority. To give you an idea of just how middle class this country was, consider this. The city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, once had 5,000 doctors. Today there are thee dozen that care for the wounded, sick and dying. He is another fact, 60% of Syria's hospitals have been destroyed, closed or abandoned.
Depending on who you ask, there are between 7 and 9 million refugees, internally and externally. Three million in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq. That includes 4.3 million children who need assistance inside of Syria, and 1.2 million that need help outside of Syria. The host countries just keep taking in more and more, far beyond what their countries could handle, their support structures should have collapsed long ago. But as one official said, "everyday is a miracle" regarding how these countries are able to cope with such numbers.
Assad would have been gone long ago were it not for the likes of Putin, Iran and Hezbollah. And to give you an example of this, take the Fourth Armored Division, notorious for shelling and besieging civilians in Homs, Hama and the suburbs of Damascus. It has been reported that most of this division isn't Syrian at all anymore, it's members replaced by foreigners mainly from Iran. Assad's brother, Maher, still commands it, but how much say does he really have in it's day to day operation. A Free Syrian Army member once said regarding Assad's foreign fighters, "We have already defeated Assad, now we are fighting Hezbollah and Iran."
The children. Ten thousand of them are dead. Including Hamza al-Khateeb, the 13 year old who was tortured to death by Assad's Mukhabarat for spray painting slogans against the regime. It was his death that really ignited the calls from many Syrians for Assad to go. If you haven't heard of Hamza, then you don't know the truth. His father was made to go on record and praise the government and Assad for the good life the Syrian people have. Can you imagine if your child was brutalized, sexually mutilated, and you were told "to forget you even had him," then were told to praise his killer as "gentle and kind," how you would feel?
Is it any coincidence, that Putin invades Crimea around the third anniversary of the Syrian Uprising? Any coincidence that the referendum for Crimea to vote for "independence" is scheduled for one day after the third anniversary of the Syrian Uprising? Is it any coincidence all of this happens as Assad balks on his promises to surrender his chemical weapons? He has already missed two deadlines and is soon to miss a third. Is it any coincidence all of this happens as Assad fails to comply with a UN resolution that calls for him to allow humanitarian aid into areas which his forces have besieged? Areas such as the Yarmouk refugee camp, which is has been turned into a wasteland with 17,000 people who have no electricity water or food. They are not allowed to leave, they are penned in like animals. They are starving to death. That same resolution condemned the Assad government for using barrel bombs,yet he continues to use them. The answer is no, Putin and Assad are mass murderers and dependent on each other for their survival, albeit one more so than the other. They are dependent on each other to run interference, to distract the world while each commits the crimes they do.
As of the writing of this article, forces loyal to Assad are in the process of starving approximately 235,000 people to death. It is a policy known as "surrender of starve." It is a violation of virtually every international law ever written regarding the treatment of noncombatants in a war zone. This is just one more cruel weapon Assad uses against women, children, the elderly and the infirm. Assad has been president almost 14 years, his second term is up in four months. He has hinted we will run again. God willing, he will not.
It is three years later. And I'm here to remind you.