For over two years, the Syrian regime has besieged the central city of Homs, cutting off tens of thousands of non-combatants from both food and medical aid. Chillingly, over the last few days, reports from inside Homs reveal that regime forces, assisted by the National Defense Militias, are advancing on neighborhoods supportive of the rebels within the city. This development indicates that these areas will likely become the site of indiscriminate executions, and the international community has only hours to act before thousands of lives will be lost.
CDS calls upon the US Department of State, the White House, and the UN to publicly forbid the Syrian regime from targeting civilians in these areas, and to bring to the world’s attention the likely war crimes in an effort to deter the regime before thousands of innocent civilians are massacred. Without strong denunciations from powerful international institutions, the regime will doubtlessly continue to feel it can act with impunity. This development comes within the context of the Geneva Process’ failure to end the siege in Homs, or deliver sufficient aid inside of the city. It also coincides with recent heavy use of barrel bombs and chemical agents as well as other unconventional weapons.
Sadly, this development is predictable because it is part and parcel of an overall regime strategy wherein civilian areas deemed supportive of the revolution are cut off by siege, and finally eradicated by regime ground troops supported by Hezbollah militias. “This will be tantamount to genocide,” said SAC President and CDS board member Dr. Talal Sunbulli, “This regime is making war on its people, and that is why it will always view civilians as a threat. The world is about to witness another wholesale massacre and cannot afford to sit on its hands again!"
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Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Syria would like to express its deepest gratitude and admiration to the Syrian CBW victims who endured a grueling press tour of the United States over the past few weeks, sharing their harrowing stories with the American public. Hiba Sawan, Ameenah Sawan, Mohammed Al-Wazir, Anas Al-Dabas, and Oussama Chourbagi traveled to the United States on a trip organized in coordination with the Etilaf and the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, speaking to lawmakers, the public, and major media outlets.
During their several week trip, the visitors, hailing from Moadamiyeh, Daraya, and Eastern Ghouta in the Damascus suburbs, discussed their experience during the August 21st Sarin Chemical Weapons attack carried out against the Syrian people by the Assad regime. Anas Al-Dabas and Oussama Chourbagi also discussed small arms massacres carried out against civilians in their native Daraya, due to the communities’ continued participation in non-violent resistance. These important first hand accounts of regime brutality were delivered to MSNBC, CBS, NPR, and Al-Jazeera, as well as lawmakers in a congressional hearing, and a private meeting with the National Security Council. This tour represented a rare instance of direct engagement between Syrian citizens and American centers of power.
“We really appreciate their stamina and fortitude during this trip” said Syrian Emergency Task Force Executive Director and CDS board member Mouaz Moustafa, “We know that it is extremely painful for these brave Syrians to recount their experiences, but it is also so important that the American people hear them. Their bravery, and commitment to recounting the horrors they endured is a testament to the resilience of our revolution and the strength of Syrian people as a whole.”
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Glossing over the United States’ support for a free Syria, President Obama focused much of his remarks on his steadfast belief in the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran. The SOTU is often interpreted as projecting a presidents’ focus, and this address revealed that the administration remains more committed to negotiating with state sponsors of terror than delivering freedom to a society in rebellion.
The Coalition For A Democratic Syria urges the Administration to provide greater support for a free and democratic Syria through productive engagement with the Opposition. The government has in fact made some steps in this direction, resuming non-lethal aid to the armed opposition. However, this move is not enough to shift the balance, and we need more from the President in both his rhetoric and actions.
In line with the United States’ interest in the Middle East, President Obama must provide stronger support for the moderate opposition in order to eliminate terrorist threats in Syria and the surrounding countries, specifically Hezbullah which is a well-known benefactor of support and arms from Iran.
Beginning in 2011, the current conflict has left over 2 million Syrians as refugees in the surrounding countries and over 6 million Syrians internally displaced within Syria. As the conflict nears the three-year mark, the international community has yet to find a solution to the continued violence. As Americans, we owe Syrians more, and we ask the president to lead the way.
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