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SETF Field Office in Aleppo Destroyed as Tens of Thousands of Residents Facing Summary Executions, Immolations, Torture, and Forced Displacement
Washington, DC - On Tuesday, SETF learned of the destruction of one of its offices in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood of Aleppo city by pro-regime forces. None of the 8 individuals employed by the office have been heard from since the weekend. The bombing constitutes just one of hundreds of war crimes happening in the face in international inaction as Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime inflict another Srebrenica-style attack on the Syrian people.
SETF field operations based out of the Bustan al-Qasr office focused on humanitarian aid and civil society support, servicing several of the surrounding neighborhoods in East Aleppo. The last message received from a member of the team came just prior to the neighborhood being taken by pro-regime forces. The message read, “We did everything we can do for our people, so please forgive us if you don’t hear back.”
Bustan al-Qasr is just one of many neighborhoods that have been overpowered by unchecked Russian, regime, and Iranian-backed forces, constrained by no commitment to international humanitarian or human rights law. The neighborhood was one of four that saw the summary execution of at least 82 civilians, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/world/middleeast/syria-aleppo-civilians.html%26amp;sa%3DD%26amp;ust%3D1481743321598000%26amp;usg%3DAFQjCNGuSspeGUPrjpHmjGAaxnq9PU2qcQ&sa=D&ust=1481743321605000&usg=AFQjCNFNJbCGfHwzyrQG7UkPpX3y40XLew">confirmed today by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition to executing civilians by gunfire, pro-regime militias reportedly turned to immolation of women and children in a horrifying exercise of inhumanity.
"The destruction of our office, which was focused primarily on humanitarian activities, is just one example of deliberate regime attacks on non-military targets” said SETF Deputy Director Evan Barrett. “The regime’s policy is to make life unlivable in areas where the population doesn't support them. Clearly, these are war crimes."
Every man, woman, and child in the besieged areas faces imminent death after repeated failures of a negotiated reprieve. The collapse of such a deal only provides further proof of the cost of ineffective diplomacy, especially in the face of the humanitarian catastrophe that has been carefully orchestrated by the Russians, Iranians, and Syrian regime with little censure from a paralyzed international community.
President Obama’s deafening silence in response to our generation’s “never again” moment makes us all complicit. Call your elected representatives in Congress now, demanding immediate safe passage for the evacuation of civilians and access for humanitarian relief.
The Coalition for a Democratic Syria is a group of Syrian-American non-profit organizations working together to bring about a swift end to the conflict and support the establishment of peace, freedom, and democracy in Syria. CDS is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, non-partisan organization. CDS includes: Syrian Emergency Task Force, United for a Free Syria, Syrian American Council, Syrian Christians for Peace, Association of Free Syrians, and the American Syriac Union.