- A statement by Tadamon! Montreal
Destruction in Homs, Syria, April 2012
The people’s struggle in Syria for liberation from the brutal, dictatorial rule of the Assad regime has arrived at a critical juncture. Central neighborhoods of Syria’s largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have become the sites of direct armed confrontation between the forces of opposition to the regime – especially the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – and the state’s military and security forces. The battles have been especially intense and protracted in Aleppo with devastating consequences for residents of the city. The state has used heavy artillery, aerial bombardments and shelling and has deployed troops, snipers and security operatives in a wide range of city quarters in pursuit of its strategy of dealing with the revolutionary movement by sheer repression and force. The result has been heavy civilian casualties, destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, mass displacements of population and, in some areas, dire humanitarian conditions (e.g. lack of food, no electricity, water shortages, no essential municipal services). State military attacks on civilian areas amount to “war crimes” according to some human rights organizations (e.g. Human Rights Watch). Meanwhile, the actions of some elements of the opposition (broadly understood) have also been qualified as human rights violations (e.g. summary executions of captured regime fighters). Armed confrontations between opposition and regime forces, in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and the increased violence that has resulted are the outcome of the Assad regime’s strategy of using repression, terror and brute force to deal with oppositional activism, protest and popular calls for freedom, dignity and the end of absolutist rule. In the face of regime brutality and terror tactics, the popular uprising which began in March 2011 took armed form, increasingly, in late 2011 and became decidedly “militarized” in early 2012. With the turn to armed struggle and the advent of fighting in Damascus and Aleppo the revolution has arrived at a crucial and important juncture.