The tragedy of Daraya
Orient Net - The New Arab 2016-08-29 04:15:00
Robin Yassin-Kassab in his article in The New Arab writes that Daraya has become a symbol of the Syrian revolution. And now - after its 25 August surrender to the Assad regime - it becomes symbolic of an even larger disaster.
The writer recalls that even when independent demonstrations were completely illegal in Syria, punishable by torture and imprisonment, even if the protests were directed against the state’s supposed enemies, Daraya used to demonstrate. Beginning on 25 August 2012 and continuing for most of the following week, regime forces perpetrated one of the worst massacres of the war in Daraya. Men, women and children were dragged into the street for execution or shot dead in their homes. A minimum of 300 people were murdered. Upper estimates reach to a thousand dead.
Yassin-Kassab explains that the ’kneel or starve’ policy cut Daraya’s electricity, water and communications. It also sealed the perimeter and prevented food and medicine from entering. The UN failed to provide humanitarian relief, bowing to Assad’s bullying despite several UN resolutions stating that regime permission was not required to deliver aid.
In Daraya, the signs calling for co-existence withstood four years of artillery and tank fire, aerial bombardment, over 9,000 barrel bombs, and poison gas.
In recent weeks, the writer adds, the bombing targeted and burnt the crops grown in town, the final food supply. On 19 August, the one surviving hospital was destroyed by napalm. Such incendiary bombs are internationally banned for use in civilian neighbourhoods. Elsewhere in Syria, Assad’s Russian sponsor has been showering civilians with incendiary weapons - including white phosphorus and thermite - and cluster munitions, which are also illegal. Then on 25 August - four years to the day after the 2012 massacre - Daraya finally surrendered.
Yassin-Kassab concludes by explaining that the surrender is a disaster first and foremost for the people of Daraya. According to the surrender agreement, the town’s fighters will be transferred to Idlib province and the civilians to other parts of rural Damascus. It means the final end of their community, therefore, and another ethnic cleansing. But, as the writer believes, this is the whole world’s failure. Powerful states, state-led "humanitarian" bodies, and a fraudulent, state-worshipping journalism have all played their part in the tragedy. The annihilation of Syrian democracy means the continuing rise of fascism and jihadism, and the continuing flow of refugees. For this everyone will pay a price.