April 2017

CURRENT SITUATION

The war in Syria continues in its sixth year of violence, terror and repression to the detriment of the civilian population and its most vulnerable sectors. The month of April opened with the tragic news of the chemical weapon attack in the eastern province of Idlib, which is controlled by various groups of rebels with a strong radical Islamist component. The Syrian regime of Assad and the Russian allies are suspected to be responsible of the bombing as they are the only ones in the conflict to be able to perform large-scale air strikes. United Nations and the European Union recognized that there is strong evidence of a government responsibility in the massacre, which has taken away the life of eighty people, many of whom were children. Chemical weapons are not new in the Syrian conflict, as they have often been used to impose fear among civilians and to cover the advance of the ground troops. Other unconventional weapons used are phosphorus and chlorine. The US President, Donald Trump, declared himself “shocked” by the cruelty of the Syrian government and ordered the bombing of Sharaja air base, from where the aircrafts took off. Russian soldiers in the base were warned 90 minutes before the bombing. Russia and Iran condemned the attack.

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February 2017

CURRENT SITUATION

Syria

Early on February a report compiled by Amnesty International was released stating that between 2011 and 2015  mass executions were systematically carried out in the prison of Saydnaya in the countryside of Damascus. The report highlights a practice of arbitrary and summary mass executions based on confessions extracted by torture. Syrian government denies any wrongdoing and rejects the accusation, rather speaking of a conspiracy. In the first months of the revolution, following an amnesty, these prisons were emptied releasing previous prisoners (mainly for religious crimes and including many extremists), while  political opponents went to fill them.
A tale of torture and abuse in prison is the one of Abbas, a 40-year-old Syrian engineer, who was arrested for taking part in public demonstrations, one of the few who have survived and wanted to witness such violence. Shady Hamadi, an Italian-Syrian writer, tells his history in an article published on the Italian “Il fatto quotidiano”. Mazen and Shady are right now in Italy to accompany the photo exhibition “Codename: Caesar. Syrian detainees – victims of torture“, a collection of images taken in the regime’s prisons by a former officer.

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January 2017

CURRENT SITUATION

Syria
From the end of December a truce has been on force in Syria. It was proclaimed by Russia, Turkey and Iran, and was followed by the talks of Astana, Kazakhstan which effectively redesigned external influences in the war, excluding the US and giving a secondary role to the Arab states of the Gulf.
Through the acquaintanceship we have among the refugees we were able to deliver the Proposal for Peace at this table too, despite knowing that it is improbable that demands by civilians who are not fighting will be listened to, but also knowing that a peace made without them will be unfair. Until now the truce have been holding.

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December 2016

CURRENT SITUATION

International community attention, in December 2016, focused particularly on the situation of Aleppo. There were thousands of losses among civilians, including many children. Despite they sought refuge in cellars were unable to avoid the repeated and daily bombing by the coalition that supports the regime, engaged in regaining control of the East part of the city. More than 900 bombs a day were dropped.
Around the middle of the month an agreement was reached, thanks to the mediation of Turkey and Russia, which led to the evacuation of the remaining Syrians. Evacuees faced difficult days due to weather conditions and the lack of any basic necessity. Several children died because of this total abandonment. Despite international attention, United Nations and other organizations for Human Rights denounced the disappearance of at least 500 men and boys while getting out of the city. In addition, there is evidence of collective executions and revenge by militias who support the action of Assad.

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November 2016

GENERAL SITUATION

In Syria war goes on. In various cities, particularly in Aleppo, the situation becomes day after day more dramatic. The bombing by the coalition in support to the Syrian regime, make the life of thousands of civilians increasingly unbearable. In mid-November the only three hospitals still in working conditions suffered heavy attacks and were rendered unusable. Every day dozens of civilian deaths are registered and several thousand refugees are leaving the city. For them the International Community is trying to provide a minimum service: wood and plastic sheeting to build tents in new camps. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that about fifty thousand people have been forced to flee and at least fifty of them have lost their lives because of an air raid.
The Syrian government has refused for the umpteenth time the truce proposed by the UN, which demands that the armed groups abandon the city, leaving it in the hands of the existing Municipal Council. The UN states that Aleppo thus risks becoming a giant cemetery.

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