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      By Nita Palmer


      The seventh year of war in Syria began with an unprovoked attack by Israel against a Syrian military outpost near Palmyra on March 17. Israel carried out three more rounds of air strikes near Damascus two days later. The Israeli Air Force claimed, as they have previously, to be targeting Hezbollah supply convoys. This is not the first time that Israel has attacked targets in Syria since the war there began; however, the four attacks in succession are a marked escalation from previous operations. The Syrian government condemned the attacks as a violation of their sovereignty and have said they will retaliate if Israel continues its aggression.

      In recent months, the Syrian Army has begun to liberate parts of the country held by ISIS and al-Nusra front terrorists, despite being obstructed at every turn by the US and coalition forces. The US-led coalition in Syria has refused to work with the Syrian government against ISIS and continues to support terrorist organizations which are tearing the country apart. It seems this latest offensive is an attempt by Israel to tip the balance of forces in favour of the so-called 'rebel' terrorists, or perhaps to stoke the fires of war by forcing the Syrian government into a conflict which would give Israel and the US renewed justification for direct military intervention in Syria. Although the Israeli government has maintained an official position of neutrality on the war in Syria, their actions have been anything but: from conducting air strikes to providing medical aid to injured al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front fighters, Israel has confirmed its place as stalwart US ally.


      Six years on, the mainstream media still call the war in Syria a 'civil war' and claim that it began with peaceful protests. However, from the very beginning this situation could never truly be called a civil war. The fighting broke out not from peaceful protests, but from a sudden armed uprising by anti-government rebels. We now know that these 'rebels' were and are trained, armed, and funded by the US government as well as allies including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. The Pentagon ran a $500 million program to support these 'rebels'; although that program has since been cancelled, other covert programs continue. The Canadian government has sent $5.3 million to these groups, while the Saudis supply both weapons and funds. With so many foreign governments supporting the anti-government forces from the very beginning, this truly cannot be called a civil war.

      It soon became clear that these 'moderate rebels' were not very moderate at all. More than 10,000 fighters from the so-called Free Syrian Army joined ISIS; thousands more became members of one of the many radical Islamist groups fighting the Syrian government. Countless civilians have reported torture, rape, mutilation and summary executions by these 'moderate rebels'.

      The Syrian Army has begun to make strides forward against these terrorists, and the Syrian government is now in control of most of the country's major cities. However, much of the country's rural area and smaller cities remain in the hands of ISIS or other terrorist groups. This cradle of human civilization has been torn apart by foreign-backed terrorists. Beautiful buildings both ancient and modern lie in ruin; vital infrastructure has been destroyed, along with many of Syria's principal industries: agriculture, oil, tourism, and the service sector.


      The war has thrown this once-modern country back decades in development and living standards. Speaking to Australia's ABC News in September, Syrian refugee Nada Hassoun tried to explain what life was like in Syria before the war.

      "Before war we had everything you can imagine, we had a modern life... we were a bit behind maybe USA or Australia, but we were going through a good thing. We had shopping malls, good facilities, big swimming pools, all kinds of universities and that was our life. I'm not saying we didn't have black points in our life; everywhere you have good sides and bad sides to life but we were living safely, we were planning for the future."

      The war has decimated Syria's economy, with the Syrian pound losing 90% of its value since 2011. The skyrocketing inflation has put food, fuel, housing, and many other basic necessities out of reach of many Syrians. Many commodities - even basic food staples such as meat and fresh vegetables - are now only available on the black market. In an interview with Reuters, former assistant to the Minister of Economy Hayan Suleiman explained the impact that the war has had on the economy and food supply: "Prices are high and increasing every day, but what can we do? Raqqa, Hasake, Daraa, Idlib and the coastal area were the center of crop production. The first four provinces are out of control."

      Syria's electrical infrastructure has also been dealt a major blow, with generating capacity dropping from 8500 megawatts before the war to just 1400 today. This supplies just a quarter of the country's electricity needs, according to electricity minister Zuheir Kharbutli. Areas which once had round-the-clock power now have it for just two hours at a time, with outages lasting 15 hours or more. This has greatly impacted not only families but vital institutions such as hospitals and schools.

      The Syrian health care system - once one of the best in the region - has been devastated as well. On the anniversary of the war, the World Health Organization issued a statement highlighting the deterioration of health care in Syria since the war began, noting that, “more than half of public hospitals and primary health centres in the Syrian Arab Republic have either closed or are only partially functioning. Almost two–thirds of health care workers have fled. Many health care facilities that are open lack clean water, electricity, and sufficient medical and surgical supplies.” Much of Syria's once-booming pharmaceutical industry, which supplied the majority of the country's medicines, has also been destroyed.

      Education has also been put on hold for this generation of Syria's children and youth. Before the war, there were more than 22,000 schools operating across the country according to the United Nation's 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview. Today, 7,400 schools have been closed, and those which remain open generally lack running water and adequate sanitation. In addition, millions of children are unable to attend school due to security concerns.

      The International Rescue Committee released a report earlier this month which found that more than half of seventh-graders could not read at a second-grade level, and 46% of eighth-graders could not complete a second-grade math problem. “This is quite alarming,” said Paul Frisoli, [International Rescue Committee’s] senior technical adviser for education. “In a country that really promoted the value of education we are now seeing severely low levels of literacy and numeracy, which can have a severe impact on children’s learning going forward.” He noted that before the war, Syria was known to have a "95 percent-plus literacy rate".

      The nearly five million Syrians who have fled their country face a dire situation as well: risking their lives in a perilous journey to Europe, or holed up in squalid, overpopulated refugee camps, often without work, access to health care, or education for their children.


      Amid this dire situation, the US and their allies continue to push for 'regime change' in Syria, insisting that the removal of President Bashar al-Assad will bring 'peace' and 'human rights' to the country. But what is their solution - to hand the country over to the control of their so-called 'moderates' who have been torturing and beheading anyone whose politics or religious beliefs they disagree with? All that 'regime change' in Syria will accomplish is strengthening terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS - the very terrorists that the US claims to be fighting! However, it is clear by now that for the US and their allies, the goal of overthrowing the independent Syrian government is more important than stopping global terrorism.

      US Congresswoman and Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard recently published a letter from Tima Kurdi, a Syrian woman who now resides in Canada. Kurdi is the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the little boy whose image became famous around the world when his body was found washed up on a Greek beach, having drowned in his family’s attempt to flee the war in Syria.

      Tima Kurdi writes: “I do not support one side or the other in the Syrian conflict. But I’m very frustrated by the Western media’s one-sided coverage of this war. The US, the West, and the Gulf countries are funding rebels associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS, giving them weapons to empower them to keep fighting and destroy and divide Syria. I know first-hand. I’ve been trying to tell the world about what is happening in Syria, but the media doesn’t want people to hear the truth.

      If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years. This is not about supporting Bashar [al-Assad]. This is about ending the war in Syria.

      We can’t continue like this, supporting regime change. We have seen it before in Iraq, in Libya, and look what happened to them. They feel there is no end at sight.”


      The campaign for 'regime change' and other reasons for intervention such as fighting ISIS are all justifications to cover for the real goal of the US: to destroy one of the last remaining independent governments in the region and turn Syria back into a semi-colonial country.

      Since the 'war on terror' began, this has been the campaign of the US and their allies: to turn every independent country back to a land over which they can exert control. This new era of war and occupation has spanned the globe, from Asia and Latin America to Africa and the Middle East. In a time when the US is facing growing economic competition from rising powers such as Russia and China, they are racing to make sure they maintain the economic, political and military upper hand in the world. These bloody wars also serve to crush the resistance of independent countries like Syria, which have proven that it is possible for a country to succeed without selling itself to US interests.


      It is the people of Syria who are paying the ultimate price in this global chess game - and ultimately, people in the US, Canada, and other imperialist countries too, as we see more and more taxpayer money funnelled from social services into military spending or 'aid' for terrorist groups.

      How dare the US government or the Canadian government claim that they are defending human rights in Syria, when almost half a million Syrians have died in this war and by every measure possible quality of life has deteriorated? How dare they claim to be standing up for our interests or protecting us from terrorism when it is they who are funding and training the terrorists?

      We cannot be silent any longer. It is time for everyone who believes in peace, justice, truth, and humanity to raise our voices together to demand an end to this war, and an end to foreign intervention and interference in Syria. This is no more nor less than our duty to Syrians and to humanity.


      Follow Nita Palmer on Twitter: @NGP1z0

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