Sunday, December 3, 2017

Syria today

....The crisis that led to the civil war in Syria remains unsolved. Assad’s regime has been bombarding towns and villages in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta — one of the de-escalation zones. Some 400,000 people live there. Syrian forces have held these towns under siege since 2013, resulting in famine and devastation. Children’s malnutrition levels there, the U.N. reported Nov. 29, are “the highest ever recorded in Syria” and one-third are “stunted.”

Weeklong airstrikes and mortar attacks against Eastern Ghouta killed more than 118 civilians as of Nov. 21, Dr. Faiz Orabi, a spokesman for the area’s health directorate, told the Wall Street Journal. Three hospitals were also struck.

Most residents see no alternative to staying put, regardless how bad things are. “Where are all the people going to go? To homes that aren’t theirs? To tent camps?” Anas Al-Khole, a journalist and government opponent in Eastern Ghouta, told the Journal. “Most of the people say that death is more merciful than leaving my home.”

Since 2011, some 75,000 people arrested by the government have been “disappeared” and at least 26,446 children are recorded as killed, a vast majority by government forces, reported the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Assad regime targets Syrian Kurds

The Assad regime is taking aim at the Syrian Kurds, who are seeking to establish an autonomous region in northern Syria. Assad regime officials say they plan to oust the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces “occupiers” from territory in Raqqa and parts of Deir el-Zour province.

“I believe what happened in Iraq must become a lesson to the SDF,” Syrian presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said Nov. 7, referring to the attacks by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia on Kurdistan Regional Government territory following the referendum there for independence.

Turkish President Erdogan, who once railed against Assad’s rule, now says he’s for cooperating with Assad in rolling back gains won by the Kurdish YPG in Syria. The Turkish rulers fear the impact that an autonomous Kurdish region along Syria’s northern border with Turkey will have on inspiring the fight by some 15 million Kurds in Turkey against national oppression and for their own homeland.

“There is a concept of a new war against the Kurds in all four parts of Kurdistan that aims to annihilate all the gains Kurdish people have made in recent years,” said Feleknas Uca of the Kurdish-based People’s Democratic Party (HDP) at a rally in Van, Turkey, Nov. 25.

More than 30 million Kurdish people — the world’s largest nationality without their own state — live in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. The rulers in all these countries oppose any moves toward Kurdish independence or autonomy.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon “is likely to announce” that Washington has about 2,000 troops in Syria, two U.S. officials told Reuters Nov. 24. Before this, Washington had only admitted to having 503 U.S. troops there, as well as 5,262 in Iraq. And they aren’t going anywhere soon.

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