Angelina Jolie, American actress and special envoy to the UN, visited Syrian children in Lebanon shortly before an Israeli attack struck the Syria-Lebanon border. Jolie came to Lebanon in hopes of promoting humanitarian care for Syrian civilians and refugees. The visitation was announced Monday.
However, late Monday night warplanes were sighted near the Syria-Lebanon border in the eastern Bekaa Valley, near the quarters of actress Jolie. The two air raids launched are said to be an attack on the Hezbollah, an ally of Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad, who has bases near the border.
Initial reports were unclear whether the raids had struck Lebanese or Syrian territory. The mountainous border makes defining the separation difficult. The Hezbollah, a militant group backed by Iranian funding, would be sure to retaliate the Israeli attacks if the raids were found to be inside Lebanon.
If the raids were confirmed within Syrian territory, however, the intentions of the Israeli attack become unclear. Both the Syrian government and its opponents have accused each other of involvement with Israel. President Assad believes Israel supports the rebels, while rebels believe Israel favors Assad, as he has not tried to regain Golan Heights, a province taken from Syria in 1967 by Israel.
The Israeli government has refrained from commenting on the raids. However, security officials in Israel have threatened action against the transfer of arms to the Hezbollah. Syria creates a path for Iran to deliver arms to the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Angelina Jolie took the short trip to Lebanon preceding the Israeli attacks.
Jolie was not affected by the attack during her three-day stay in Lebanon. The Hezbollah’s news channel, Al Manar, confirmed the raids were within Syria. The actress visited 3,500 orphan children in the eastern Bekaa Valley whose parents were separated from them in fleeing, or have been killed.
“Their childhood,” said Jolie, “has been hijacked. They are…young, yet…are bearing the burdens…as if they are adults.” Syrian children still with their parents are struggling as well. Many children have been forced to leave school in order to earn money to support their families, many of whom left Syria with only the clothes on their backs.
Jolie said the trip was an act of thanks to the Lebanese government for accepting nearly one million Syrian refugees, despite the significant inflation of education and public health systems it has caused. “The generosity…shown by Lebanon…to its neighbor serves as an example…for which we should all be grateful,” said Jolie.”We need to help [Lebanon] bear this burden,” Jolie said.
But the main goal of Jolie’s trip was to gain international support of the recent UN humanitarian resolution, to help Syrian children and adults within the country. The resolution, which does not involve sanctions, does threaten further action if the expectations are not met. Jolie called the resolution an over-due step, impressing the need for immediacy.
The continued war in Syria is spilling over to many religious and militant groups. Jolie hopes her visit will inspire others to help end the war, limit attacks like those from Israel and bring peace to the innocent people and children of Syria.
By Erin P. Friar