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Syria Air Strikes – Are Bombs the Way…

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I would like to begin with mention and introduction to the most important factors surrounding the complicated topic of Air Bombing Campaigns. It seems that too often the way is always The Bombing way – Bombs away, bombs away, bombs away!

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Air Strikes

The Governments across the World have been doing this for too long; when will this mad and crazy envisaged and implemented notion stop where so many innocent civilians die and often lives are destroyed for many years if not completely. I can write about this with confidence as I have spoken to people who wish to remain anonymous who have lived in fear of bombs and have had to rebuild homes as well as see family members and friends die from the carnage caused by air strikes.

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Terrorism

Air Strikes have not stopped Terrorism instead fueled it, and it was argued by many that it is an effective approach in combating Terrorism, an argument which now holds less strength, in a World where we’ve seen more Terrorism since 9/11.

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Nuclear weapons / Chemical Attacks

Instead Governments should say away with bombs, away with Nuclear weapons, however I would like to focus for now on how The World should say no to these horrific air bombing campaigns.

The war in Syria is the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago. Especially with Assad’s use of chemical gas/weapons and most recently with a chemical chlorine attack.

Human Rights

England and many other Western and non-Western countries talk of human rights and being countries integral to Religion with Peace and Harmony at its centrality. Surely causing destruction in other countries caused by these campaigns are far from Peaceful and with ones’ Human Rights on point.

There needs to be some perspective in these situations and the public have shown there concern on many occasions with protests too. Many people signed the petitions to stop the action of bombing in Syria. Which has also been a catalyst to more refugees fleeing the country.

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Public Awareness/Division

The UK public seemed divided on Bombing on Syria as were the MP’s who voted whether to launch air strikes in Syria; significantly this division was seen in the BR-EXIT where those wanting to remain in the EU were closely matched to the numbers to exit, whose main rhetoric was about the influx of immigrants many of whom would obviously be refugees to the UK fleeing Syria. Anti-war demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street and other locations across the UK to make their voice heard, after so many setbacks from the previous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq surely many felt that this war in Syria would have the same outcome.

The UK government’s case is built on the argument that bombing would disrupt the ability of Isis to organize attacks in Europe, while containing the extremist group by denying it territory and access to finance, primarily through oil exports.

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Russian Controversy

Russia has been poor in setting an example, by going all out and bombing everywhere across Syria. The UK and US did not waste much time in bombing Syria either and they were quick to push ahead with their campaigns. President Assad is still in charge in Syria and his cruel regime is still using chemical weapons on the innocent civilians. With President Assad still in power the US and the UK will have seen this as a failure although they may say it is still too soon to title this war as such.

Russia’s President Putin has been backing Assad to stay as President and this has become a confusing combination in the war in Syria with air strikes happening from every direction, targeting US and Turkish fighters as well as anyone seen to oppose the regime currently in place with Bashr Al Assad at the top; the civilians on the ground would obviously find it difficult to differentiate between US, UK, French and Russian planes, and as a result are living with death all around them whilst trying to survive being bombed on a regular basis.

Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, mosques and a busy markets, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, says ‘Amnesty International’.

“The number of civilian casualties from Russian bombardment is far higher than the number caused by American and French airstrikes,” said Wael Aleji, spokesman for the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

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Destruction

There needs to be a leading nation for promoting Peace and instead of engaging in War there has to be further interest in investing against Terrorism. The UK has been bombed in the bygone past when Germany used aerial bombing strikes.

It seems as if those memories need to be related to now, even more so now. How can the insensitivity of bombs which nowadays with all the modern technology available are even more dangerous not be banned all together.

Power in the missiles launched cause mass damage and have huge radius, despite claims that they are precision based strikes there are many innocent civilian casualties in every strike. The destruction happening is reminiscent of the past whether it be Pearl Harbour, Germany bombing the UK, or Iraq and Afghanistan and other middle east countries like Iran and Lebanon.

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Financial Interests

Behind this facade of helping the innocent civilians through bombing campaigns there is the sinister situation where the rich nations are profiting from the sales in modern weaponry and aerial bombs, the arms industry is worth billions and the Governments around the World benefit from this lucrative business trading and buying and selling; once the destructive damage has been done by dropping bombs, the Governments award contracts to rebuild, the UK and US did this in Iraq making money from contracts given to corporations within the UK and US who are often donors to Governments in Power.

The economies of the countries conducting the rebuilding on such a mass scale has a rewarding effect on their economy.

New airports are re-built, buildings, military bases, etc all bring in business; not to mention oil from these countries exported at extortionate prices. These war torn countries economies suffer as a result of this exploitation and this effects its citizens directly.

The Guardian News titled one of their articles in 2013 : “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern.” The article went on to say that “Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines.” It also mentioned the reliance on Middle East oil :

“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized… For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources… The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

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Syria’s People – Refugee Crisis

Moving away from financial aspects, I would like to focus on the people aspect however; a recent statistic from Syria provided by Mercy Corps is :

“Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.”

And the UN says millions of Syrians need our help, According to the U.N., it will take £5 billion to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians in 2016. The U.N. estimates that 6.6 million people are internally displaced. When you also consider refugees, well over half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, whether they still remain in the country or have escaped across the borders.

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Conflict and Children

Mercy Corps also says of the conflict and bombing that:

“More than five years after it began, the full-blown civil war has killed over 250,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians. Bombings are destroying crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. In October 2015, Russia began launching airstrikes at ISIS targets in Syria. The bombings have continued, so far killing at least 2,000 civilians and forcing even more Syrians to flee for safety.”

Syrians are now the largest refugee population in the world. Almost 5 million Syrians have registered or are awaiting registration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is leading the regional emergency response. According to the UN, more than half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Most have been out of school for months, if not years.

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Twitter Controversy

Anti-Isis activist group ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’ warned on Twitter that airstrikes which kill civilians undermine the fight against Isis and they said of the bombings – “Congratulations to the Coalition u have a new 160 #ISIS new fighters who will join the fight against u after u kill 160 civilian ##Manbij”

Population decline

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution (2011), there have been more than 115 thousand civilian casualties and 5 percent of all deaths in Syria are caused by terrorist attacks. Due to the high number of casualties, millions of people have fled Syria and in 2014, Syria had one of the the highest population decline rates in the world.

Al-Tukhar & Manbij strikes

Most recently was the bombing of Al-Tukhar and Manbij which has resulted in the largest loss of civilian life by coalition operations in Syria.

“There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needless loss of civilian life,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

Terrorist Trouble

Bombing hinders the innocent Syrian civilians and at publishing the bombing still continues; Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said of the bombings that “In Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Mosul, Isis is living almost totally among civilians, so you can’t hit them.”

He pointed out that thousands of foreign jihadi had managed to travel to and from Syria for the past few years through Turkey and questioned the wisdom of now trying to stop militants with bombs when they could have been stopped with tighter border controls. The Paris conspirators, including the presumed ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, were able to travel between Belgium, France and Syria while the US-led airstrikes targeting Isis command and control were in full swing.

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Legality & War Crimes

The legality of the War in Syria has also been questioned after the world has witnessed foreign intervention, as to who wanted President Assad removed and whether the international bombings in Syria have contributed to human rights violations.

“Some Russian air strikes appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians. Such attacks may amount to war crimes,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

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Syria’s Economy after Foreign Intervention

“The medium-term macroeconomic prospects hinge on containing the war and finding a political resolution to the conflict, and rebuilding the damaged infrastructure and social capital. Violence continues to disrupt the production and distribution of goods and services, and impedes economic activity. Barring a cessation of the conflict, the country’s human and physical capital stock is expected to continue to shrink.” (worldbank.org)

The conflict has significantly damaged the country’s public and private assets including health, education, energy, water and sanitation, agriculture, transportation, housing and other infrastructure. The Syria Center for Policy Research estimated that, for the whole country, the destruction of physical infrastructure amounted to $75 billion. The UN estimated that it would need an investment of $180 billion to bring Syrian GDP back to pre-conflict levels.

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Conclusion

After having spoken to a Syrian gentlemen who lived 19 years in Syria and then moved to the UK; he told me he was upset and saddened to see what was happening in Syria he said that the political complexities are so vast that everyone seems confused about the situation, and the foreign intervention has not helped anything; “I am angered by the amount of civilians dying in Foreign Air Strikes, this war is about more than Assad, if the West wanted him out it would have happened by now. Instead he still lives in the comfort of Syria and is still using chemical weapons.”

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I would like to conclude with a part of the conversation which really summed up my concern for Syrians being bombed in these horrific air strikes;

“You don’t think about these air strikes till it happens to you or your family or friends, before you accept these bombings from all sides you should really think about the devastation, what if this happened to you, that’s when you really feel it, before it happens to you give some thought to those being bombed and try and make a difference, stand up for the Syrians.”

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Double Trouble: UK doubles funding to Syria and Israeli jets strike in Syria

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The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron three months ago was in Jordan where he met with HM King of Jordan  (Abdullah II) and also took time to meet with displaced Syrian refugees at the border, who had fled the conflict within Syria, which has been going on since March 2011 and is known as the Syrian Civil War.

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Mr Cameron was discussing the sinister situation within Syria with the King , which sees fighting on a daily basis. There was a UN – proposal of a four day ceasefire during the time of the Muslim festival, Eid, in October 2012, this was however broken, after a car bomb exploded and killed many people, according to reports from within the country. Images have appeared on all platforms of the media revealing the devastation there and the immense number of casualties (60,000 dead according to the UN, although much more than this number are thought to have died).

There is currently an ongoing UN appeal and $1.5 billion has already been pledged to help the refugees with food, water, sanitation, shelter, medical care and supplies. The following statement is from Mr Panos Moumtzis from the official United Nations Human Committee for Refugees.

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“Over half a million refugees have now fled the escalating violence in Syria and around 3,000 new refugees are crossing the border into neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan every day. It is estimated that up to 1 million Syrian refugees will need help by the end of the first half of 2013.

“We are constantly shocked by the horrific stories refugees tell us. Their lives are in turmoil. They have lost their homes and family members. By the time they reach the borders, they are exhausted, traumatised and with little or no resources to rely on.

The refugee crisis has seen the UK pledge £21 million to Jordan and the UK are pledging £50 million more than doubling the amount of funding to the UN for Syria.n refugees. This funding was announced by the UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening whilst attending a joint emergency conference by hosts Kuwait and the United Nations who set the appeal target at $1.5 billion and received in excess of this from Countries such as the US and Germany and other organisations.

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Justine Greening said “In Jordan on Saturday, I saw for myself the human cost of this conflict and the massive effort by NGOs to deal with huge numbers of refugees.” The UK is currently providing a total of £139.5 million to the crisis.

BANKIMOON

General Secretary of the UN Ban Ki-Moon was at the emergency Kuwaiti conference (held on 30/01/2013)  too, he is quoted as saying: “The situation in Syria is catastrophic and getting worse by the day … And every day Syrians face a cascading catalogue of horrors: unrelenting violence, dwindling supplies of food and medicine, and human rights violations including sexual violence and arbitrary arrests and detention.”

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Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in Algeria after the savage hostage situation which took place there and where six Britons were killed. From 1st January 2013 the UK have been holding the G8’s Presidency and one of the issues on the agenda is tackling Terrorism; Mr Cameron’s visit to Algeria is addressing this issue at hand, whilst the problem of Syria is sure to remain on the agenda too.

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The latest development within Syria is the air strike that has taken place in Syria by Israeli jets; Syria has confirmed the air strikes although negates the target (which is said to be lorries carrying weapons, near the border of Lebanon). The BBC has reported that “Lebanese security sources, Western diplomats and Syrian rebels say an arms convoy was hit near Lebanon’s border.” This is contrary to what the Syrian Government has reported, they claim that a scientific military facility  was hit by the air strike in nearby Damascus, they also said that this facility was being attempted to be taken over by rebels also frequently referred to as terrorists by President Assad’s regime in Syria. Controversy follows president Assad and his regimes references to national terrorists operating within the country. Russia and China have backed Syria so far, although much of the World and the UN are opposed to China and Russia’s support for President Assad.

The situation is an intrinsic one, the US and Israel have not commented on the incident and it is said that Israel struck with their jets to ensure that anti-aircraft missiles did not fall into the hands of Hezbollah a militant group within Lebanon. Syria is believed to have acquired these weapons including anti-tank missiles from Russia, after a nuclear reactor was taken out by Israel in another air strike in 2007. Israel and the US are concerned that countries such as Syria, Iran, and Lebanon will use chemical weapons in a conflict and therefore Israel have stepped up their security in the North of the country.

Syria’s double – trouble is a problem, the world is watching and also trying to help the refugees, however the country is in need of dire help to sort the problem out peacefully. Finally, the United Nations have warned Syria to not use any chemical weapons as has the US.

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Additional Information:

The UNHCR are still taking donations towards the Syrian crisis: http://donate.unhcr.org/syria-uk

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