SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

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Recent Assad regime reverses on Syrian battlefields have revived Obama administration fears of “catastrophic success:” that the person told by President Barack Obama in August 2011 to step aside might instead be pushed aside and that his fall could entail a regime collapse exploited by extremists intent on avenging the mass homicide atrocities of the regime.

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One may see the nuclear agreement with Iran as the product of a faulty premise and still respect the industry of US Secretary of State John Kerry and his team in arriving at respectable terms consistent with that premise. One may see the prospect of a regionally aggressive Iran soon to be flush with cash as alarming and still—given the positions of Washington’s closest allies and the international community in general—counsel Congress to show solidarity with the commander-in-chief.

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The Syrian government has trapped hundreds of thousands of its own people in besieged areas, intentionally depriving them of food, medicine, electricity, and water, as a cruel tactic of war. Despite the inhumane conditions they have been living with for years now, the people of these areas have received little help from the international community.

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The Washington Post, on July 10th,contained an impressive commentary authored by Atlantic Council Director Nicholas Burns and International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband.  In Syria’s Worsening Refugee Crisis Demands Action from the West, the authors argue—among other things—that, “The debate about a no-fly zone across Syria to protect civilians from the Assad government’s deadly ‘barrel bombs’ needs to move from slogans to details.”  What is crucial, however, is the venue of this detailed debate. 

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On July 7, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter revealed to incredulous members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon is currently training sixty Syrian anti-Assad rebels to fight the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).  Even in the context of a train-and-equip program that has aimed fatally low from the outset—some 15,000 fighters over three years—Carter’s report reflects abject failure.  He spoke the truth when he said, “We need a partner on the ground in Syria to ensure ISIL’s lasting defeat.”  The train-and-equip program as currently configured will not meet that objective.

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The conflict in Syria has trapped hundreds of thousands of civilians in parts of Homs and Damascus, besieged by their own government for years. They struggle to survive, facing shortages of basic goods including food, water, and medicine while continuing to endure violent aerial attacks.

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The 2014 Syria Report on Human Rights Practices released on June 25, 2015 describes at length—and sometimes in graphic detail—the egregious violations taking place in Syria.

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Washington’s strategy to degrade and destroy the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Syria entails a significant contribution from Syrian civilians: their lives.

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Recent rebel victories in southern Syria highlight the role of the Druze in the Syrian conflict. As the war’s frontlines shift towards the minority’s core territories, the Druze will come under pressure to redefine their stance toward the rebellion.

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Shortly after losing Tikrit to Iraqi security forces and militia, the Islamic State seized Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, and captured the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria just a few days later.

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