Shelling of Bus in Northern Syria Caps a Merciless Year
All the evidences direct us to this fact that U.S., on implementing its hegemonic strategy in the Middle East, has changed its tactic from direct use of force to creating conflict among the sectarians in the region through colluding among the regional leaders. The long U.S. halt and doing nothing for more than 2 years on Syrian uprising has merely been part of its intrigue to let the Iranian Mullahs’ terrorists, Al-Qaeda groups, and other Islamist terrorists to merge into the conflict. But recently that the Islamic regime’s meddling in Syria has dropped due to its economic pressure United States comes to rescue and opens up a window of economic revitalization under the “sucker’s deal with Iran”. The deal even if it manages to temporarily freeze the Mullahs’ nuclear program it will certainly be used by the regime to refresh and strengthen its bases in Syria. Saudi Arabia on the other hand while rebuking the America’s Mideast policy decides boosting support for the Sunnis rebels fighting in Syria and of course U.S. welcome it. To let the sectarian conflict escalate in the region and turn it into a regional war, U.S. gives American missiles to Iraq’ President, to let its Shiite-dominated forces to use them and kill Iranian Mullahs’ Sunni enemies. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if in the coming months the world witnesses an upside-down Middle East that would have drastic consequences on the global security and peace, which will provide the compelling justification for American people to let their government intervene in the conflict and obviously Uncle Sam will take it from there to apply its hegemonic roadmap for the greater Middle East.[DID]
Half obscured by smoke and dust, a man in a video brandished a milk crate loaded with what he said were fragments of human flesh: the remains of people torn apart when a shell hit a city bus in Aleppo in northern Syria on Tuesday, the latest in a series of attacks on civilian targets by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Look, look, Bashar, they are humans, they are civilians,” the man shouted as others searched for more remains among the oranges stacked in a neat pyramid on a nearby cart — a grim end to a year of civil war in which the number of Syrian refugees quintupled and the death toll doubled.
The explosion in the Tariq al-Bab area of Aleppo, which anti-government activists said had killed at least 10 people, occurred not far from a market that was hit on Saturday. A second shell landed nearby as people tried to take the victims to hospitals, the activists said.
The international aid group Doctors Without Borders, which provides medical assistance in rebel-held northern Syria, said on Tuesday that its contacts at 10 local hospitals had counted more than 540 people killed and more than 3,000 wounded in Aleppo during two weeks of intense government bombardment that has targeted schools, residential buildings, hospitals, markets and bus stations.
Government forces began to escalate their siege of Aleppo in mid-December with a combination of conventional bombs, missiles, and improvised mixes of explosives and shrapnel stuffed into barrels and dropped by helicopter gunships. These so-called barrel bombs are believed to be responsible for many of the recent deaths in the city, which has been a focal point of the conflict since the summer of 2012.
Rights groups and the United Nations have denounced the use of the barrel bombs, which kill and maim indiscriminately. Some opposition activists complain that the positive publicity engendered by Mr. Assad’s pledge to destroy all of his chemical arms has obscured the barbaric deaths and injuries inflicted by the military’s conventional weaponry.
The carrying out of the chemical arms deal fell behind schedule on Tuesday, with Syria missing an end-of-year deadline to move most of its chemical weapons out of the country. Syrian forces have not even started transporting the weapons to the port of Latakia for shipment, along a route that has been a battleground for weeks.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the monitoring group based in The Hague and helping to oversee the destruction of the arsenal, had warned of the delay and said the government was not intentionally prolonging the operation.
In Aleppo, activists and residents described a growing sense of helplessness among the population, which feels besieged by threats from the sky and extremist insurgents in the city, and abandoned by the world outside.
“It was artillery shelling this time, since there was rain and the warplanes couldn’t drop barrels,” said Ammar, an anti-government activist from the area.
The danger did not come only from above, he said: Among the crowd of people who rushed to help after the bus was struck were fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an extremist group that holds sway in many rebel areas. The fighters were looking for civilian activists they wanted to arrest — activists who are nominally allies in the fight against Mr. Assad, but are in practice treated as enemies because they are seen as insufficiently pious or because they disagree with the group’s vision of religious rule.
One activist, Ammar said, was detained at the scene, and his camera was confiscated. He received it back only after lengthy mediation.
These activists have spent much of the past three years making videos of the aftermath of attacks to substantiate the opposition’s claims of indiscriminate violence against civilians by the Assad government. Hope has faded that these efforts will lead to international intervention, but they remain a way of showing defiance.
In one video from Tuesday, as a camera panned across the charred bus from above, a small boy looked up and gave the victory sign.
The Syrian government has presented an entirely different picture of military action in Aleppo, saying its forces have successfully eradicated nests of terrorists — its catchword for all armed resistance to Mr. Assad. The state-run news media elaborated on that theme on Tuesday, quoting the speaker of the People’s Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, as saying in the assembly’s final session that recent bombings in other countries had vindicated the government.
“Terrorism targeting Syria is expanding and beginning to affect Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and, most recently, the Russian city of Volgograd, which confirms Syria’s warning about the need to confront terrorism,” the official news agency Sana quoted Mr. Laham as saying.
On its Facebook page, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provided a detailed tally of casualties since the first reported death in the conflict, which began in March 2011 with the violent suppression of a protest against Mr. Assad in the southern city of Dara’a. As of Monday, the group said, the deaths totaled 130,433, including 46,266 civilians. Among the civilians, 7,014 were children and 4,695 women.
The deaths also included 32,013 government soldiers, 19,729 pro-government militia members and informers, 19,937 rebel fighters, 2,233 military defectors and 6,913 jihadists fighting on the rebel side, mostly non-Syrians from extremist groups.
Anne Barnard is a reporter at The New York Times, currently covering the Middle East. Her recent overseas work includes coverage of Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Haiti and Russia. Earlier, Ms. Barnard served as Baghdad bureau chief and Middle East bureau chief for The Boston Globe, before joining the Times in 2007.