Advocacy group condemns Syrian government for mass starvation

In a searing review of the conduct of the Syrian government over its role in Syria’s six-year civil war, a human rights group has declared it was the deliberate policy of the Assad regime to slowly starve the Syrian people through denial of vital food and medical assistance.

New York-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says most civilian deaths and untold civilian suffering was avoidable, but occurred as a result of Damascus manipulating conditions of UN assistance convoys — aid intended for the most needy civilians — by removing medical supplies from aid columns attempting to relieve the hardest-hit areas.

“Still others bleed to death from war-related injuries — or die in childbirth, or from other preventable causes — because their besiegers refuse to allow the sick and injured to be evacuated to medical care,” read one passage from the report.

The Syrian government declined to respond to the allegations which amount to crimes against humanity.

PHR says the lack of cooperation from the Damascus government resulted in the denial of aid to an average of 500,000 citizens per month in the months between May and December 2016.

Two days following the report’s release, physicians with international aid groups testified in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, revealing chilling accounts of wholesale slaughter in Syrian towns to which they served.

Fearing reprisal from the Assad government, several medical specialists, an obstetrician and an ophthalmologist, both of whom wore masks as they spoke, testified to a persistent climate of death hanging over Aleppo.

“A hospital was the most dangerous place in Aleppo,” said Fairda, an obstetrician.

“These chlorine attacks occurred after repeated attempts by the (Syrian) regime and its allies to destroy the hospital using barrel bombs and cluster munitions had failed.  Instead, they resorted to chemical attacks to drive us out,” said another physician, Abdulkhalek, an ophthalmologist.

The six-year civil war in Syria has killed close to 500,000 Syrian civilians and displaced millions more.

Initially a rebellion against the four-decade rule by the al-Assad family, Assad’s crackdown spawned a full-fledged civil unrest.  Shortly thereafter, terror groups al-Qaeda and ISIS entered the fray, gaining large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq.

Syria’s long-time ally, Russia, came to Damascus’ aid later in 2015 and reversed the tide against Syrian rebels.

Global leaders have since censured both Moscow and Damascus for the bloody civil war which has ensued.

 

[AP] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Heavy]