The old district of the Syrian city of Homs has been under siege by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for almost eighteen months.
The old district of the Syrian city of Homs has been under siege by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for almost eighteen months. The populace there is starving. A convoy of twelve trucks with over 100 tons of food is waiting outside the city only 100 yards away from people who are in desperate need of assistance.
Hopes that talks held in Geneva last week between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition -- the first time the two parties have met since the conflict began nearly three years ago -- would lead to relief for the besieged city have not been realized. The regime of Bashar al-Assad refuses to allow the trucks to enter the city. Instead, the regime has offered a one-time evacuation of women and children.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki deplored the refusal of the Syrian regime to allow humanitarian aid into the city. “The situation is desperate,” she said, and the proposed evacuation of women and children “is not sufficient”:
“The people of Homs must not be forced to leave their homes and split up their families before receiving much-needed food and other aid. An evacuation is not an alternative to badly needed humanitarian assistance. We’ve seen similar tactics before from the regime through its despicable ‘kneel or starve’ campaign.”
Ms. Psaki noted that U.S. concern about the humanitarian situation on the ground in Syria extends to other besieged communities in the country in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
The brutality of the Syrian regime against the Syrian people over the past three years, including the use of starvation as a weapon of war, gas attacks against civilians, torture, executions, and indiscriminate bombings constitute the reason why Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot be a part of a negotiated transitional government for Syria, the most important goal of the Geneva talks, which were convened to discuss the implementation of the June 2012 Geneva communique, which called for such a government.
As Secretary of State John Kerry has said, “There is no way that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and region hostage.”