Thursday, 20th September 2018
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Civil War

It has been seven years since the start of one of the most violent and one of the most complex civil wars that this age has seen in Syria.

Although since it started it has hardly been out of the news, it has been the focus of renewed attention recently due to the massive amount of bloodshed that has happened in the Eastern Ghouta province of the country. Since the fighting in Aleppo stopped in 2016 when practically all of the civilian population there were held ransom has the country not seen such fierce fighting involving the civilian population. It has been estimated that approximately 500 civilians have died in the fighting since it broke out this week and out of that number approximately 100 of them have been children. What is making this whole incident such a focus of international attention is the fact that it appears that it is the civilian population that is being targeted.

Eastern Ghouta lies on the doorstep to Damascus and is one of the areas that is still being held in rebel control. It is clear that the Syrian Government and it's allies want to extend their control into this area and part of their plan involves targeting the civilian population. Of course it denies this but what else could you call the bombing of hospitals, civic aid centres, schools and bakeries. What is also being recognised by those on the ground is that once somewhere is bombed, when the first aid responders go there to help the area is again bombed by the authorities.

It is quite clear that the Syrian Government is targeting civilians in opposition to all known codes of international war conduct. There is usually very little regard for civilians in war time but this particular civil war has raised the bar when it comes to neglecting the manner in which it deals with it's civilian populations. Even though there has been a concerted security council effort at the U.N. to try and bring the situation back under some level of control that it has not been able to do it so far.

It is clear that with Russia and it's vetoing sanctioning ability on the council that Syria's closest ally will do all that it can to ensure that the present regime of Bahar al-Assad's will have as much of a free hand in doing what it wants in Eastern Ghouta. All of the attempts so far to bring the situation under control have been kicked down the road by the Russians and it seems that their stalling tactics are working. Even if a ceasefire is put in place there is no guarantee that it will last for the recommended three weeks so that aid can get into Eastern Ghouta.

Whatever the outcome of the talks at the security council it is quite clear that in Syria civilians are a legitimate target as they have been throughout this seven year old civil war.


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