Category Archives: Bashar al-Assad

The taboo on chemical weapons has lasted a century – it must be preserved | Peter Beaumont

Whatever you think about action against Syria, it’s vital we uphold the idea that some kinds of killing are beyond the pale

At about 5pm on 22 April 1915, French and Algerian troops on the Ypres front in Belgium noticed a lull in the German artillery fire that had been targeting their lines. Bracing themselves for an expected infantry advance, they were puzzled instead to observe a greenish-yellow cloud drifting towards them, then lapping over the tops of the trenches.

A Canadian soldier, AT Hunter, who witnessed what was the first use of chlorine gas in war, described a “passive curiosity turned to active torment – a burning sensation in the head, red-hot needles in the lungs, the throat seized as by a strangler. Many fell and died on the spot. The others, gasping, stumbling with faces contorted, hands wildly gesticulating, and uttering hoarse cries of pain, fled madly through the villages and farms and through Ypres itself, carrying panic to the remnants of the civilian population.”

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Source: gad

Civilians without hope, a leader without a country: call this a victory?

Assad claims he has restored sovereignty to Syria, but grievances remain deep for both vanquished and victors

The beginning of the end for Ghouta came first with a trickle. Desperate, hungry and scared, Syria’s newest displaced people walked a journey into the unknown, past Russian military police, towards loyalist soldiers who started checking names.

The same anxious ritual of the vanquished had been carried out before, in Homs, Aleppo, Qusair and most other places in the country, where seven years ago today the first spasms of open defiance began to rattle its ruthless rulers.

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Source: gad

Besieged enclave of Ghouta on brink of falling to Syrian regime

About 15,000 people flee opposition area seven years since protests that led to war

The Syrian opposition enclave of Ghouta is on the brink of falling to regime forces, three weeks into a relentless air blitz and seven years to the day since the first stirrings of anti-regime protests, which went on to spark nationwide insurrection, then a devastating war.

Up to 15,000 people had fled from the town of Hamouriyah by nightfall on Thursday into regime-held areas, their exit aided by Syrian and Russian forces who had besieged them throughout much of the conflict, their defiance withering as another bloody anniversary was marked.

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Source: gad

Russia suspected of using 'dumb' bombs to shift blame for Syria war crimes

UN sources say Moscow’s use of weapons similar to those used by Syrian regime could be attempt to mask involvement in airstrikes

The Russian air force has used unguided “dumb” bombs in Syria, in what UN sources say may be an effort to shift responsibility for possible war crimes and civilian deaths to their ally, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

UN sources told the Guardian that Moscow’s use of less accurate bombs, which are closer in their capability to the Syrian air force’s weapons stockpiles, may be intended to make it more difficult for war crimes investigators to identify who is responsible for civilian deaths from airstrikes in Syria.

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Source: gad

Why is the world at war?

Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ukraine – the globe is scarred by violence

We live in a world of trouble. Conflicts today may be much less lethal than those that scarred the last century, but this brings little comfort. We remain deeply anxious. We can blame terrorism and the fear it inspires despite the statistically unimportant number of casualties it inflicts, or the contemporary media and the breathless cycle of “breaking news”, but the truth remains that the wars that seem to inspire the fanatics or have produced so many headlines in recent years prompt deep anxiety. One reason is that these wars appear to have no end in sight.

To explain these conflicts we reach for easy binary schema – Islam v the west; haves against have-nots; nations that “play by the rules” of the international system against “rogues”. We also look to grand geopolitical theories – the end of the Westphalian system, the west faced by “the rise of the rest” – or even just attribute the violence to “geography”. None of these explanations seems to adequately allay our concerns.

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Source: gad

'Damn the whole world': eastern Ghouta's rescuers struggle to cope

As Syrian regime bombs rain down, the White Helmets fear their families will be next

Saeed al-Masri rushed to the site of the bombing in the town of Saqba, in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.When the volunteer rescue worker arrived in the ambulance he realised it was his street that had been bombed. Then he realised it was his home. His three-month-old son, Yehya, was inside along with his wife.

“I cannot describe the scene,” he said in a phone interview with the Guardian about the incident earlier this month. “I have seen many children under the rubble, but I had been waiting for my boy for four years.”

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Source: gad

Syria is a moral defeat for Europeans | Natalie Nougayrède

After 1945 Europe said “never again” but never again is happening before our eyes in the Middle East, says Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède

Syria is a European crisis as well as a Middle Eastern one, and the world’s worst human rights disaster in decades. Historians may one day tell us to what degree the west wasted a chance to force Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table, had sufficient and timely pressure had been brought to bear on his forces, in particular through targeted strikes. That’s how Slobodan Milošević was forced to sign the 1995 Dayton agreement, which put an end to mass atrocities in Bosnia.

Related: Fighting resumes in eastern Ghouta despite ‘humanitarian pause’

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Source: gad

Assad forces defy UN demands for ceasefire in eastern Ghouta

At least 29 people have died since security council vote, amid reports of fresh chemical attack

At least 29 people have been killed in the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta since the UN security council passed a resolution demanding an end to the fighting, as Bashar al-Assad’s forces continue to defy international pleas for a ceasefire.

Local doctors and monitors said a suspected chlorine attack in the rebel-held area outside Damascus also left 18 people injured on Sunday evening, as residents condemned the international community’s inability to put an end to the fighting.

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Source: gad

Syria: fresh fighting in eastern Ghouta despite UN-ordered ceasefire

Offensives seen as Assad regime’s bid to eliminate opposition and as challenge to security council’s authority

Syrian regime forces have launched a fresh ground and air offensive against rebel positions in the besieged and battered enclave of eastern Ghouta in defiance of a nationwide ceasefire ordered by the UN security council.

Witnesses said fighting erupted on several fronts on Sunday in what was seen as a possible last-ditch bid by Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, to eliminate opposition resistance in Ghouta, near Damascus, before the 30-day ceasefire can be enforced.

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Source: gad

Syria's return to bombing-as-usual is down to Russia | Simon Tisdall

It is as though the vote for a ceasefire never happened. The burden of responsibility lies with Putin

The first signs from eastern Ghouta are not encouraging. A day after the UN security council finally agreed a ceasefire, it was back to bombing-as-usual for Syria’s regime. It is as though the vote for a truce in the besieged enclave, so long in coming and so contentious, never happened at all.

Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, is primarily culpable. He probably no longer cares what the world thinks. He has no reputation to lose. Perhaps he calculates one final push by his ground forces will finish the rebels, before a ceasefire takes hold.

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Source: gad