In a devastating aerial bombing, Syria government forces “barrel bombed” residential areas from helicopters, killing a number of civilians, including women and children. Graphic pictures published by Rueters show a man, covered in dust and debris, holding a blanketed child found beneath the rubble of a home. Other photos “too graphic to publish” show men, women and children, lying lifeless in the streets of Syria.
The Damascus district of Douma is the latest area to be attacked by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in a campaign to defeat the rebels. Only a few miles from the president’s “secretive” base inside Damascus’ diplomatic quarter, the latest assault has racked up more civilian deaths in the ongoing conflict. With a current death count upwards of 100,000 people, millions of refugees have fled the crumbling state of Syria, flooding surrounding countries like Turkey and Lebanon.
The government “barrel bomb” attack on the city comes the same day that the first shipment of Syria’s poison gas was handed over to international chemical watchdogs to be destroyed. The operation overseen by the United Nations is part of an agreement established last year, with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons receiving a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in dismantling Syria’s nuclear arsenal.
As fighting continues between the Syrian rebels and the government, a rising militant Sunni insurgency threatens to disrupt the entire region, from Iraq to Afghanistan, bringing together unlikely allegiances between countries like the U.S. and Iran to tackle the growing conflict.
The head of a group linked to Al-Qaeda called for a halt in fighting after videos were released of dead children being hauled away by stretchers from the site of today’s attack. Despite talks of a ceasefire, fighting still rages on across the border in Iraq, where Sunni militants allied with Al-Qaeda have taken the city of Fallujah. Being surrounded by the Iraqi government backed by local Sunni tribesmen, efforts are underway to reclaim the city.
The group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIC) are looking to sow instability in the region and establish governments based on Sharia law. Sunni tribesmen in Iraq and elsewhere are taking part in battling back against the insurgents, saying all they want is peace in the region.
Hoisting black flags atop buildings, driving in pick up trucks armed with Soviet era weaponry, the group has managed to fight back against government forces in Iraq and has left observers worried that the Shiite government in Iraq may have a long fight ahead of them.
The ISIC have been battling other rebel groups for power over areas across the region. According to Syria’s Observatory for Human Rights, 274 people have been killed in “rebel-on-rebel” fights in Syria since Friday. The escalating conflict has brought America to the same side as Iran on the issue, with both countries looking to expel the Sunni militants from the region.
A solution proposed by Abu Mohammed Golani, leader of the Nursa Front, details a plan for exchanging prisoners and the formation of an “Islamic Legal Council” to bring the rebels into the political dialogue of the country and put an end to the violence.
While Syria’s government continues to bombard towns and cities, the in-fighting between rebels continues, as well as the tenuous power play in the Middle East.
by John Amaruso