Despite the horrors taking place in Syria, with civilians victimized by both the Assad regime and by violent extremists like ISIL, members of Syria’s civil society still work to deliver essential services, coordinate humanitarian relief, rescue the wounded, document abuses, and lay the groundwork for a political transition.
Earlier this month, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski travelled to Turkey to meet with members of Syria’s civil society and opposition to express the U.S. Government’s support for their work. He underscored U.S. support for Syrian human rights defenders and media activists and reiterated deep concern for the thousands of political prisoners who must be released, including human rights lawyers Mazen Darwish and Razan Zeitouneh. He also stressed that the Syrian people deserve justice, the ability to freely choose their government and relief from the Assad regime’s barrel bombs and other horrific abuses.
He and the activists he met with condemned the murders and brutality committed by both the Assad regime and ISIL.
Assad’s brutality in the form of barrel bombs and airstrikes tragically continued this month in both the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta and Duma, where hundreds of civilians, including children, were killed and wounded, and in Aleppo where Assad’s air force dropped barrel bombs in the public square when civilians were collecting water and waiting for buses.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf condemned the bombings, saying they “show an utter disregard for human life” and noted that “Syrians on the ground report these are among the Assad regime’s most brutal attacks since its unrelenting campaign of terror began nearly four years ago.” They are examples of the countless atrocities committed by the Assad regime against the Syrian people, she said, and “reaffirm there can never be a stable, inclusive Syria under the leadership of this ruthless dictator.”
In his meeting with Syrian activists in Turkey, Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski noted that it was the Assad regime’s brutal suppression of democratic opposition forces and atrocities against civilians that allowed terrorist groups like ISIL to grow.
“The United States,” he said, “stands with Syria’s brave activists who, despite grave threats, continue their efforts to achieve fundamental human rights for all Syrians.”