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Syrian children terrified of clear blue skies for when skies are clear, bombs will drop

Middle EastSyrian children terrified of clear blue skies for when skies are clear, bombs will drop

The Syrian conflict began on 15 March 2011.  What started as a nonviolent protest in 2011 escalated into a full-fledged civil war with the loss of 500,000 people, dead or missing, 13 million estimated displaced or fled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, while 11,000 Syrians and counting tortured and executed.  This war horror has drawn the intervention of many nations.

The triggers that started this great uprising and tragic war were the poor economy, high unemployment, government corruption, religious tensions between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims, severe drought, and large frustration among people under Assad’s rule.  Human rights groups have revealed that Assad often tortured and killed political opponents throughout his presidency.

One event, known as the Arab Spring is perhaps the most contributing trigger for the conflict.

In early 2011, a series of political and economic protests in Egypt and Tunisia broke out known as the Arab Spring.  It inspired many pro-democracy activists in Syria.

Unfortunately, in March of 2011, 15 Syrian schoolchildren were arrested and tortured for writing graffiti that was inspired by the Arab Spring. One of the boys was killed.  This sparked outrage and protests throughout Syria. Citizens demanded the release of the remaining children, along with greater freedoms for all people in the country.

Instead, the government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, retaliated by killing and arresting hundreds of protestors. Shock and anger sparked all over Syria, and while people demanded that Assad resign, he refused.  A terrible war broke out between his supporters and his opponents.

The 11-year Syrian civil war traumatized Syria, its neighbors, got several nations involved, stirred rebel groups and generated terrorist organizations such as ISIS and ultimately raised up organized fighters from other countries to help fight against the terror groups.

Through it all, Assad’s regime was relentless to massacre Syrians. The United Nations says nearly 500,000 have been killed or missing since fighting began, mass-murdering civilians, torturing children, even killing American journalist Marie Colvin.  Children were not considered too young for torture, there is a child in every 5 people summoned by the government, tortured, and killed.  Assad even dropped chemical weapons loaded with sarin gas on Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb outside Damascus where 1,400 Syrian civilians were killed and several hundred more were poisoned.  Barrel bombs are used in densely populated civilian areas.  A terrible massacre was inflicted in Houla.  Rebel groups like Al Nusra and the Islamic State have targeted journalists turning Syria into “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists,”

The UN World Food Program says that nearly 6 million Syrians now rely on its food assistance programs to survive, 13.1 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, such as medicine or food. Nearly 3 million of these people live in hard-to-reach areas

Assad’s main backers are Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah (a militia group based in Lebanon). The United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and other western countries are said to be supporters of moderate rebel groups. Many newer rebel groups have emerged since the war began.  The ongoing war vamped in terrorist organizations, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda and these groups are mostly Sunni militants.

While the rebels and Assad’s groups have both fought separate battles against ISIS, while also waging war against each other, the United States has also led an international bombing campaign against ISIS targets since 2014.

In April of 2017 and 2018, the United States launched military attacks against chemical weapons sites in Syria. Assad’s office spoke out against the 2017 attacks and said in a statement, “What America did is nothing but foolish and irresponsible behavior, which only reveals its short-sightedness and political and military blindness to reality.”

After the 2018 attack, U.S. President Donald Trump told the press: “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power—military, economic, and diplomatic.”

In September 2018, Assad’s forces had reclaimed control of most of the country’s biggest cities, but some parts of Syria are still held by rebel and jihadist groups and the Kurdish-led SDF alliance. The last remaining rebel stronghold was the north-western province of Idlib. ISIS’s presence in Syria presently has nearly been eliminated.

Syria’s lost children are taken to Bekaa Valley, a fertile but harsh valley bordering Syria. With EU support, Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC) provides them with shelter, food, drinking water, and latrines.  If one asks them about their parents, they reply, “Dead.” Then they start crying, fighting back tears, and holding their faces. Young children matured overnight, and take on huge responsibilities, sometimes the younger ones have to take care of older traumatized brothers, sisters, and other family members.  They have all lost their childhood.

As quoted by one United Nations worker, if they ask children living in normal war-free nations to draw what they fear, they draw angry dogs, spiders, or the dark and the sky would have flashes of lightning.  When they ask Syrian children the same question, they draw blood, bullets, and bodies. The skies in their pictures showed fighter planes and falling bombs and splash a lot of “red blood” in morbid paintings that would make one cry.  Children do not know anything about school, which to them would be an unattainable wonderful simplicity of life.  They only know war, see its grotesque sights, hear the sounds of bombs, hopeless weeping, inhuman cries, bursts of fire, shrapnel shells, death, dead bodies strewn around, blood, and brokenness.

They hallucinate, see flashbacks, and see visions of people who want to suffocate and kill them, they suffer from phobias and personalities have been crushed. Those who are orphaned live with haunted memories of loved lost parents, trying to get normal in a new life that totally sabotaged their known way of living.

A child living in a war-free nation enjoys normal life adores brilliant blue skies, can catch the butterflies, run and play joyously on open landscapes without fear, but this is not so in Syria! Living in a war-torn land, they live in terror each day among devastated ruins, prone to starvation, thirst, and poverty.

Adults have lost their sanity to the horrors of conflict, children lost childhood to the tragedy of war. War is a never-ending cycle of revenge and retribution, digging countries deeper into their insatiable trenches.  Boomeranging with malignant side effects, prideful ambitious leaders keep justifying their wars.

Though the United Nations has hosted nine rounds of mediated peace talks since 2014, little progress has been made and both Asad, outside nations, and the rebels are not willing to draw any line of peace. Egotism and control seem to be dominating their systems. The lives of civilians are immaterial.  It is easy to push a button or throw a bomb from safe fortified zones thus the rulers keep on at it relentlessly.  It seems the United Nations has lost its significance and power to temper down war and negotiate peace.

It is time leaders dialogue their differences over tables to stop human rights atrocities in war-torn lands.  It is enough.

Today, the children in Syria are not only petrified of the dark, they are also terrified of clear blue skies as they know when the skies are clear the bombs will drop, so when will the leaders stop?

 

 

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