Thursday, December 19, 2013

Air strikes kill 76: Just another Sunday in Aleppo

[Originally posted at NOW]

For those joining the likes of onetime US ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker and former Israeli army chief Dan Halutz in seeing Bashar al-Assad not so much as the conscious and principal architect of Syria’s relentless agony as its earnest and wrongfully neglected ameliorant, it’s perhaps futile to expect actual facts on the ground to be persuasive. (What is there left to say to someone who, fourteen chemical weapons attacks later, can still bring himself to start sentences with “But as bad as Assad is […]”?)

Yet, despite long ago realizing that help isn’t coming, and victory isn’t within reach, Syria’s media activists and citizen journalists continue to document the daily murder of their fellow men, women and children in videos that, if they aren’t put to their rightful use in evidence at The Hague, will at least be a source of much stimulation for future history students.

Today’s example is this clip from Aleppo, showing the aftermath of the regime’s aerial dynamite-barrelling of a residential neighborhood. The scene is typical, if such a word can be used for something so grotesquely abnormal: charred lumps of gore in the shape of children littering the ground; lifeless bodies being dragged from the rubble; dazed survivors choking on the dust generated by the sheer obliteration of entire buildings; and the endless, piercing screams of grief. All in all, AFP reported “at least 76 people, including 28 children” were killed in the series of attacks.

These are the forgotten horrors in the media’s exciting, daring new story, in which we’ve had Syria back-to-front all this time; conned by a duplicitous opposition into a false impression of Assad as (in Seymour Hersh’s smirking phrase) “a ruthless murderer.” Watching Sunday’s carnage, I remembered the Syrian journalist Mohammed Aly Sergie’s unforgettably dark comment on another recent regime atrocity, the butchery of infants with knives in the Qalamoun city of Nabk: “[The victims] seem to be Sunnis killed by conventional weapons, so nothing to worry about.”

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