Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The figures are best used for comparison as exact accuracy is difficult. This report takes us up to the end of March, the most recent month for which we have completed analysis of the figures of dead from various sources. Some sources give higher figures than outs but we do not regard them as accurate. 

The NCF has been taking figures from six different websites then compiling them to come up with our own figures taking various factors into account. Many of these websites issue figures for specific events and at times are sporadic. Severe restriction on movement and the removal of NGOs and independent human rights organisations for safety reasons have impacted the collection and verification of casualty figures.   

March was the “bloodiest month” so far this year with more than 6000 deaths. The dramatic increase in casualties was said to be caused by increased shelling and rebels launching offensives in an effort to capture army bases together with an influx of foreign provided weapons.

In March, allegations of the use of chemical weapons surfaced and the Syrian government and opposition forces shifted blame, each accusing the other side. Various US and UK intelligence reports have confirmed the use of chemical agents. For years, the Al Assad government was suspected of accumulating chemical weapons such as mustard gas and sarin but it was never confirmed. The Syrian government has never declared or admitted possessing chemical weapons.

Following these reports, President Obama declared, “For Syria to utilise chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues.” He also stated that further evidence such as an UN investigation was needed before the international community took any action. It is obvious that President Obama is speaking from previous experience where information about chemical weapons in Iraq was found to be incorrect in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq war.

A UN team in Cyprus is waiting deployment to Syria; however, without the consent of the Syrian government, there is little they can do. Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed that there is increasing evidence that government forces used chemical weapons and no proof that rebels have used chemical weapons. Hague stated, "There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime used - and continues to use - chemical weapons."

Antonio Guterres, the Chief of the UN Refugee Agency has spoken of the numbers of refugees doubling even tripling by the end of the year if the Syrian conflict is not resolved. Fighting flared up in Homs over the weekend, causing more civilians to flee the city into neighbouring Lebanon. Guterres has urged Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to continue supporting and sheltering refugees.

However, refugee agencies are struggling to cope with the worsening humanitarian crisis. In early May, the US sent its first shipment of food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Last week, David Cameron announced that the UK will be doubling its non-lethal aid to rebels over the next year. In a statement, he said that the UK will be providing £30 million in new aid for humanitarian relief and an additional £10 million "non-lethal support" to the FSA. 

Donor governments are increasingly considering sending lethal aid. US Secretary of State John Kerry has stipulated that President Obama will not be sending American troops to Syria and is still unwilling to send lethal aid although rebels could receive more aid if the Syrian government continues to refuse to cooperate. Kerry stated, "The only alternative to a negotiated settlement is more killing, is more innocent civilian deaths, more chaos, more instability in part of the world that has already suffered too much. That path would lead to a lot more families being torn apart, to a lot more refugees crossing the borders. It is a path that would lead potentially to the splitting of Syria itself." 

Experts have said that the Al Assad government is proving more resilient than expected. Many believe that the support of the Iranians, Russians and Hezbollah are the source of the renewed resilience of the Syrian government. 

David Cameron and Francois Hollande have failed to convince the EU to arm the FSA. Both France and Britain have been anxious to send arms to the FSA but have consistently faced a wall of resistance by the EU. EU foreign ministers will be discussing the issue on 27th May since it failed to come up at the EU Summit on 22nd May. Current weapons embargo and EU sanctions on Syria will expire on 1 June.

The Arab League and Friends of Syria will submit a list of proposals to the UN Security Council today (23rd May) for the June peace conference by calling for a transitional government as a way to end the conflict. The National Council, Syria's main opposition have begun a 3-day meeting in Istanbul today to discuss peace talks with the government. 

1 comment:

impact windows said...

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