World, Middle East

Attack in northwest Syria shows need for safe zone: SAC

World immune to suffering of Syrians, though scenes of regime attack shocking even by Syrian standards, says SAC director

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 22.11.2019
Attack in northwest Syria shows need for safe zone: SAC

ANKARA

The Syrian American Council (SAC) reiterated its call for a safe zone in northern Syria and an immediate political transition after Wednesday's missile attack near the northwestern village of al-Qah.

Demanding an end to deadly attacks on civilians, the council said in a statement on Thursday: "It is clear that these steps are the only way that Syrian people can live safely in their own country."

The statement came after a deadly attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), which left at least 16 civilians, many of them children, dead and more than 60 wounded. A nearby maternity hospital had also been also damaged during the attack.

"The world has grown tired, or perhaps immune to, the suffering of Syrians, but the scenes from last night in al-Qah are shocking even by Syrian standards," said Suzanne Meriden, executive director of the SAC.

"With images like these, of innocent children and civilians, it’s difficult to comprehend how world leaders can sit back and not take action," Meriden added.

Videos from the aftermath of the attack show medical staff rushing to treat injured infants scattered across the floor inside the hospital, while outside, first responders and camp residents desperately tried to put out flames as dead bodies lay nearby, according to the statement.

"The people living in al-Qah camp hoped that their proximity to the Turkish border would keep them safe from the bombs and bloodshed," it said, adding: "But these attacks show that no one – not even civilians living in the misery of an IDP camp – can be safe in [Bashar al-]Assad's Syria."

Noting that the damaged maternity hospital was part of a UN-led deconfliction mechanism, it said the Syrian government and its allies "knew the exact location of the hospital but bombed it anyway".

The SAC also called on the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to open an investigation into the attack, and other recent violations of the deconfliction system so responsible parties could be held accountable.

The council was formed in 2005 to empower the Syrian-American community to organize and advocate for a free, democratic and pluralistic Syria through American support.

"The missiles are believed to have originated from an Iranian militia base outside of Aleppo city," it claimed.

Turkish government has been defending the establishment of a terror-free safe zone since 2015 on all international platforms, including the UN.

Since 2016, Turkey launched three major cross-border military operations in northern Syria against YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS terror groups to secure its borders, protect local Syrians and relocate millions of Syrian refugees back to their homeland.

Ankara reached two separate deals with Washington and Moscow last month, according to which it agreed to pause its latest operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone of Turkey on its border with Syria.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The terrorist YPG is the PKK's Syrian branch.

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