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The Syrian inferno

The Syrian inferno
Even as the death toll continues to rise in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib where Syrian government and Russian forces intensify air attacks, there is little hope for peace. Indeed, the bombings take a greater casualty by the day. On Thursday alone, more than 150 perished, over 1000 were left severely wounded and six hospital facilities blown away. And, to think the ruling Syrian regime is not only carrying out the bombings ostensibly to get at a few rebels but instigating its Russian ally to do so too. The death toll keeps climbing as the joint air attacks continue for a fifth day. A government offensive backed by Russian air support has been underway in the area since mid-December. Matters got worse after a Russian pilot was shot down and killed on Saturday. Some believe Russia is now taking "revenge". The bombardment is intense. While the dead are being brought out of the rubble, wrapped in sheets and buried, the critically wounded have no hope of treatment.
The search for survivors amid the rubble is still underway by members of Syria's Civil Defence unit. Scenes of entire buildings, housing whole families crashing down have become a frequent image. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, says Tuesday marked the "largest massacre in Syria" since April's chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province when more than 80 people were killed. Both areas were meant to be two of several "de-escalation zones" agreed upon a year ago by Russia, Iran, both government allies, and Turkey, a backer of the armed opposition. The deal, ironically, was meant to result in an end to the violence and provide safety to civillians. But it has, expectedly, not been implemented. Eastern Ghouta, which is home to 400,000 people, has been besieged by pro-government forces since 2013. Due to the siege, very little humanitarian aid has entered, making access to basic supplies such as food, highly restricted. Medical supplies are far too scarce. Amid the attacks, doctors have put up a makeshift health centre, but health professionals are being hit too. It was the only medical centre in the town and it served 15,000 people. Only the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, can answer why all this has to happen. Was there no alternative? Why did foreign powers need to be brought in to ensure death and destruction for his own people? Some day people may well wonder what they fought each other for in a "battle" that left so much of bloodshed and destruction. People may ask what good came of it all. Eventually, a la Robert Southey, some old witness would sigh and say, "That I cannot tell. But,'twas a famous victory."
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