Death and Destruction Mount in Syria

(Article No. 14, 2013 – The Vincent Times)
February 21, 2013

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The  Arab Spring-inspired civil war in Syria has  transformed  the country into a gallery of death and destruction turning aspirations for political and economic reforms  into wails and moans of desperation, grief and perhaps regrets. And if and when it ends, it would be very difficult to announce triumph for the damage the war wrought in terms of lives lost is irreversible and properties ruined is severe.

Reports from both  the print and broadcast media  covering the Syrian violence are fraught with horrible accounts of the massacres happening in the different  regions of Syria, most particularly in the areas held by the opposition. The sight of the damage to both historical sites and modern structures is appalling.

Deaths resulted  from actual skirmishes between the government forces and opposition. There are also reports of summary executions being committed. Aside from firing missiles, both sides also resort to car bombing in order to deliver destruction. Hundreds of bombings have been carried out since the beginning of the civil war.

The latest of the bombings that took place in Aleppo University was on January 15, 2013 that killed around 82 people.

Rough estimates put  the death toll at more or less 70,000 people and the United Nations fear that this will increase if the civil war persists. There are other figures as regards  the number of deaths. Perhaps it will be safe to say   that  the statistics could be 50,000 to 70,000.  The Syrian opposition published in their website Syrian Martyrs the number of fatalities at 54,601, The report claims that around 6,923 of these are rebels. They were not able to keep a tally of the fatalities from the government

The UNICEF claimed that over 500 children have been killed by early February.  Claims are  made that  400 children were tortured. There are more than 600 detainees and political prisoners who died while being subjected to  torture. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported that the number of children and women killed in the conflict  had risen to 3,717 and 2,144, respectively.

Aside from the horrendous loss of life, Syria suffers also from extensive devastation of its facilities and infrastructure. The world is a witness as to how entire blocks of apartment buildings are shattered when hit by bombs coming from either sides.

There would be more deaths if the Syrian government  would use chemical and biological weapons that it promised it would should Syria be attacked by foreign powers during the ongoing civil war. But the spokesman from the foreign ministry said that such deadly weapons  would never be used against Syrian citizens.

There are indications however that the forces loyal to Assad  might unleash these weapons against both civilian and opposition forces in important areas. Both the U.S. and Britain displayed concern over the what they termed as apparent preparation of the Syrian government in employing chemical warfare against the forces opposing them.

World heritage sites were not spared from destruction. In a report it was said that the centuries-old markets in different areas in Syria  have been gutted by flames  and gunfire.  Destroyed needlessly  are many factories, oil pipelines, churches and schools. Network of roads and bridges that took very long and a lot of money to build lay in ruins.

Cultural losses resulting from the indiscriminate bombing from both sides is said to be incalculable. This is what Dava Castillo pointed out in an article where he discussed the damages the war has inflicted on the historical sites in Syria.

According to Dava, “The ruination of ancient cities and the loss of antiquities from bombing and looting during wartime go largely unreported until after a war is over and the damages to infrastructure begin to accumulate.

As it is, six world heritage sites in Syria listed in the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), are either damaged already or under threat of damage.

Neither the powerful  Western nations nor those belonging to the Arab world have been unwilling to intervene in order to end the warfare. The international community can be blamed  for inaction. They paid only a lip service to the struggle of the Syrian people by denouncing President Bashar al-Assad.

Even the UN Security Council could not undertake tough action against Assad’s regime because of the opposition posed by  China and Russia who are both maintaining  diplomatic and economic  ties with Syria.

The hesitation of the West in directly getting involved in the conflict in Syria stems from the fear that Syria to them may be what was Vietnam to America and Afghanistan to Russia.

Without a peaceful resolution to the conflict in sight, more bloodshed and more destruction are expected.

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