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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

70,000 reasons why Assad has no place in Syria's future

The Syrian dictator's relentless barrel bombing has killed and maimed thousands of civilians

At least 10,763 Syrians, many of them children, have lost their lives to Al Assad's barrel bombs. AFP
At least 10,763 Syrians, many of them children, have lost their lives to Al Assad's barrel bombs. AFP

Barrel bombs are old containers filled with crude explosives and shrapnel that explode on impact. As instruments of terror, they are a cheap, crude and effective way of killing and maiming at random in places packed with humanity. It comes as little surprise that Bashar Al Assad has made extensive use of barrel bombs to terrorise and subdue Syrians. According to a report published this week by the independent Syrian Network of Human Rights, the regime in Damascus dropped nearly 70,000 barrel bombs between July 2012 and December last year. At least 10,763 Syrians, many of them children, have lost their lives to these flying killing machines.

Even as lackeys of Mr Al Assad appear in foreign cities to speak loftily of the need for a “political solution”, their master drops incendiary barrels on defenceless civilians unable to protect themselves. The reason for this is simple. Mr Al Assad is not interested in a political transition: his sole objective is to frighten his people to the point that they relinquish all hope for change. Barrel bombs are among the weapons with which his regime seeks to underwrite its future and spell out the extent of his barbarism and inhumanity.

The UN's inquiry commission on Syria has stated unequivocally that barrel bombs deployed by the Syrian regime violate “‘rules of international humanitarian law prohibiting the use of weapons that cause superfluous injury, unnecessary suffering or that are indiscriminate by nature”. It has repeatedly called on Damascus to cease using them. But such demands, repeated after Syrians were gassed to death with sarin, have been greeted with contempt by Mr Al Assad. Rather than being brought to justice for his war crimes, he continues to consider himself a contender in the future of Syria and carries on stamping on the hopes of Syrians. For those who continue to support his aspirations, that shocking statistic should remain a source of neverending shame.

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