Carnage in Syria continues despite unanimous cease fire

Robert A. Cohn is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the St. Louis Jewish Light.

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Four days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution mandating a cease-fire in Syria without delay, the carnage continues with no end in sight.  The cease-fire, which was to last for 30 days, was to allow humanitarian relief supplies to the war-torn nation, especially to the besieged eastern suburb of Ghouta near the capital of Damascus.  According to U.N. sources, at least 500 civilians were killed in just one night of relentless air strikes seemingly intended to reduce the once-thriving city to dust. 

According to the Associated Press, U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, asked Security Council members when the resolution would be implemented, noting that convoys were ready to go to 10 besieged and hard-to-reach sites, including 45 trucks with aid for 90,000 people in Douma in eastern Ghouta. 

Since Feb. 18, more than 580 people are reported to have been killed, Lowcock said, and well over 1,000 in air and ground strikes in Damascus, home to about 400,000 people. With delivery of aid “totally collapsed,” Lowcock added, “Unless this changes, we will soon see even more people dying from starvation and disease than from the bombing and the shelling.”

The U.N. Security Council resolution passed unanimously with a rare Russian yes vote — so vicious and overwhelming are the Syrian atrocities that even Russia, which along with Iran—and apparently North Korea—has provided major military backing to the genocidal campaign of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.


Despite the international outrage over Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the use of agents like chlorine gas continues.  A horrific full-color photograph on page one of The New York Times on Feb. 28 shows two small children being treated last Sunday “after a suspected chlorine gas attack by Syrian government forces.”  Didn’t President Barack Obama warn that if Syria could be proved to have used chemical weapons it would be a “game changer” and would constitute “crossing a red line.”?  Obama made an ill-fated decision not to strike at Syria after it was found to have used chemical weapons, and supposed Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was removed to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, handing over to Assad’s chief backer weapons of mass destruction.

After President Donald Trump took office there was another instance of Syrian use of chemical weapons.  In response to the attack, Trump ordered strikes of Tomahawk missiles against Syrian sites from which the weapons were launched.  That action was commendable, but there have been no follow-up strikes against Syria after it has renewed its campaign, which violates the Geneva Conventions against use of such weapons adopted after the First World War.

If all of the above were not bad enough, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had front page stories about the role that North Korea has been playing in “shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be  used in the production of chemical weapons,” according to United Nations experts.”

Meanwhile Putins’s military has dragged its feet in allowing the cease-fire to take effect and to reduce its duration to five days from the agreed-upon 30 days needed to get the relief supplies to the besieged areas in Syria.

The world can no longer look the other way or pretend that the genocidal atrocities in Syria are not taking place. The heart-wrenching photos of the Syrian children on breathing tubes to treat them for chemical weapons inhalation speak for themselves.

NATO saw fit to engage in a poorly planned attack in Libya, which removed its dictator Mummer Qaddafi from power but left utter chaos in its wake with no “day after” plan.  If the United Nations is prevented from action to save the starving victims in Syria, NATO should step into the breach and create no-fly zones over the regions of Syria that are being mercilessly pounded from the skies over Damascus.

We often invoke the expression “Never Again!” as a collective promise not to allow another genocide such as the Holocaust to happen again.

The time for hollow rhetoric and delays has passed. The time for urgent action is now.