Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Washington DC Friday: Rally to Stop the Bombs in Syria

Cross-posted from NFZSyria.org.

This Friday 27 March, 1-2pm at the White House.

From the Facebook event page:
Join us as we stage a protest to demand the United States take action to stop the Syrian regime dropping barrel bombs and chemical weapons on civilians.

Come and add your voice to the voices of Syrian volunteer rescue workers - the White Helmets, thousands of non-violent activists in Syria and nearly 600,000 people around the world who are calling for a no fly zone.

On the 16th March the Syrian regime dropped barrels of chlorine on civilians in Sarmeen, Idlib killing six and injuring dozens.

The attack came just 11 days after the UN Security Council voted on a resolution saying it would take further measures, including the possibility of military force, if chlorine gas was used again in Syria. Now it has been used. The Syrian regime is testing us – if the international community doesn't take action, if our leaders break their word, it will be a green light for thousands more to be killed using poison gas and barrel bombs.

The attack also comes 390 days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution banning the use of barrel bombs. Despite these threats, the Syrian regime is doing nothing to ease its attacks on civilians. Barrel bombs have killed nearly 2000 children.

Every barrel bomb Assad drops also strengthens ISIS. Any support these extremists have in Syria is directly linked to the mass human rights violations of the Assad regime. If we want to defeat ISIS we have to end the violence in Syria.

Stand with the Syrian people because no one is free until we’re all free.

Please join if you can.

A call from Planet Syria: Is anybody out there?

Cross-posted from NFZSyria.org.

Planet Syria is an initiative by non-violent Syrian activists. They write:
Non-violent activists across Syria are calling for global solidarity around their joint demands of stopping the regime's barrel bombs and pushing for inclusive peace talks.

Scroll down on their website, www.planetsyria.org, to read more:

Extremism breeds from injustice – the biggest killer of civilians in Syria today is the ‘barrel bomb’. These are often old oil barrels filled with explosive and scrap metal and rolled out of government helicopters and planes miles up in the air onto hospitals, schools and homes.

The UN Security Council unanimously banned them a year ago. Nothing has changed since then – nearly 2,000 children have been killed since UN Resolution 2139 was signed on February 22, 2014.

Many of us were against foreign military intervention in Syria. But in September 2014 the US-led coalition started bombing ISIS in our country. Now there is a deep hypocrisy to letting the Assad regime fly in the same airspace and kill civilians. Many more than are killed by ISIS.

The international community must follow through on its demands and stop the regime’s barrel bombs and air attacks – even if that means with a ‘no fly zone’.

You’ll also find Planet Syria on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Ask your MP to support Syria Civil Defence – ‘The White Helmets’

Cross-posted from Syria Solidarity UK.

Syria Civil Defence, known as The White Helmets, are volunteer rescue workers who have saved thousands of people from the rubble of air attacks.

After Assad’s forces again attacked civilians with chlorine bombs on 16th of March, Syria Civil Defence called on UN Security Council members to enforce a no-fly zone.

You can help.

If you live in the UK, this page can help you write an email to your MP.

Please ask your MP to support The White Helmets in their call for action to end Assad’s air attacks.

Get started here.

Photo above: Kafranbel protesters call for a No-Fly Zone, 21 March. More here.

Below: London protest outside the US Embassy, 22 March. More here.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Syria Civil Defence ‘White Helmets’ call for No-Fly Zone following chemical attack


Above images via Syria Solidarity UK: 17th March London protest outside the US Embassy following new Assad regime air attacks with chlorine bombs.

There will be a further protest at the US Embassy this Sunday, 2-4pm. Facebook event page here.

Note that last Saturday’s march to Downing Street also called for a No-Fly Zone.

Following the 16 March attacks, Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, have called for the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria to stop further air attacks on civilians by the Assad regime.You can sign a petition in support on their website, www.whitehelmets.org.

Press release from The Syria Campaign:

17th March 2015

Bissan Fakih, bissan@thesyriacampaign.org, +961 71 377 364


Syrian Civil Defence call for the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone

Chlorine attacks took place in the town of Sarmeen and in the village of Kminas on Monday night. Kminas was hit by two chlorine-filled barrel bombs around 8:30 PM. The village is nearly deserted and no casualties were recorded. The smell of chlorine traveled west to the town of Sarmeen. Members of the Syrian Civil Defence – known as the White Helmets – responded to civilians who complained of choking but there were no serious casualties.

At 10:30 PM, the town of Sarmeen was hit with chlorine-filled barrel bombs. Six people are confirmed to have died in the attack. A husband and wife and their three children, and the husband’s mother. They are reported to have died in the field hospital due to lack of treatment options available.

Five civil defence centres responded to the attacks in Sarmeen – teams from Binnish, Maarat Nauman, Saraqeb, Balyon and Sarmeen were present. There were more than 70 cases of choking, including seven members of the White Helmets who were later discharged from the hospital around 2 AM. Some of the injured have been taken to Turkey for treatment, others have remained to be treated in field hospitals.

The government renewed their attacks two hours later in Kafr Takharim, using scud missiles. Seven were killed.

The chlorine attacks come just eleven days after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution specifically condemning the use of the gas as a weapon in Syria. Resolution 2209 [2015] – drafted by the United States – states that the UN Security Council will impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if chemical weapons including chlorine are used again. Chapter VII allows decisions to be enforced with economic sanctions or military force.

In response to the chlorine attack, the White Helmets are calling for the United Nations to uphold its demands and stop the chemical attacks and barrel bombs by implementing a ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria. Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian Civil Defence said:
“When a child inhales chlorine they get a burning pain in their throat and eyes and they feel like they’re suffocating. Sometimes they vomit but often their breathing just gets shallower and they slip away, never to wake up again. It breaks your heart forever. I wish the world could see what I have seen with my eyes.”

He added:
“These children did not have to die. It’s not good enough for the United Nations to ban these chemical weapons on paper, they need to stop them from dropping from the sky. With a no-fly zone these children would be alive today.”

The White Helmets have launched their campaign for today at www.whitehelmets.org, in partnership with global advocacy group The Syria Campaign. James Sadri, Campaign Director of The Syria Campaign said:
“Only days ago the UN Security Council said it would impose Chapter VII measures if its resolution on chemical weapons was violated again. Well it’s been violated. Real action must be taken immediately to protect civilians – with a no-fly zone if necessary.”

Video: English language video of the Syria Civil Defence treating victims of the attacks

Video: A rescue worker shows signs of intoxication

Notes to Editors

The Syrian Civil Defense – or the ‘White Helmets’ as they are known – are volunteer rescue workers who arrive to the sites of barrel bomb attacks to dig survivors out from under the rubble and transport the injured to safety. Unarmed and neutral, they have saved people from all sides of the conflict.

Barrel bombs themselves were banned last year in a separate UN Security Council resolution 2193 on 22 February 2014. However, since then according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights at least 1,892 children have been killed by them.

Resolution 2209 was passed after a fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) earlier this year concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine was used on three villages in Syria in 2014, killing 13 people. The report included eyewitness accounts of helicopters dropping barrel bombs with toxic chemicals. The use of chlorine gas has been repeatedly reported by activists and rescue workers in Syria.

In the OPCW report they did not say which side was responsible for the chlorine attacks, but the UK, France and US have all accused the Assad regime of the attacks. Addressing the Security Council, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said there was not much doubt. “Let’s ask ourselves, who has helicopters in Syria? Certainly not the opposition. Only the regime does and we have seen them use their helicopters in countless other attacks on innocent Syrians using barrel bombs.”

The Syrian representative to the UN has persistently denied the use of chlorine gas and in a BBC interview in February Assad said that his regime were “definitely not” using chlorine as a weapon.

The Syria Campaign is an advocacy group mobilising public support around the world to stop the violence in Syria

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Four years is too long

Cross-posted from NFZSyria.org.

Last year, two out of every five civilians killed in Syria were killed by Assad’s air attacks.

Over half the women killed last year were killed by Assad’s air attacks.

Over half the children killed last year were killed by Assad’s air attacks.

There is no other single measure that could do as much to save civilian lives as stopping Assad’s air force.

Some say this should be done by giving the Free Syrian Army anti-aircraft weapons. That might help, but not enough. Not enough to stop Assad’s bombers. There are too many. They attack over too wide an area. They fly too high.

So the best way, the one way, the only way to ground Assad’s air force, is for the UK, France, the USA, one or all of them I don’t care, to make the decision.

Make the call.

Tell Assad this stops now. Tell him, your bombing stops now or we start hitting your air bases. UK, France, USA, ground Assad’s air force.

Four years is too long.

Syria needs a No-Fly Zone.

Join us today in London.