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Feb 3, 20

Northern Indiana Groups in Solidarity with People of Syria’s Idlib Province

Report from anti-capitalist and autonomous groups who rallied in solidarity with the Syrian province Idlib.

South Bend, Indiana—Local chapters of Food Not Bombs, Democratic Socialists of America, Industrial Workers of the World’s General Defense Committee, and Rising Tide held an event on Sunday in solidarity with the people of Idlib’s province who are currently under brutal bombardment.

As they served 68 free vegetarian meals to the local community, these groups distributed literature on the Syrian and Russian governments’ ongoing genocide against Idlib’s 3 million civilians including 1 million children. The South Bend area groups amplified the following demands made by Idlib Lives in consultation with Syrian women’s groups:

  • Stop the deliberate targeting and the forced displacement of civilians. After all, the technology is available to recognize the noncombatant status of families, with the imperative to cease from targeting them.

  • Call upon all parties and states/governments involved in the Syrian conflict, especially Russia, Turkey, and Iran as guarantors of the de-escalation agreement, to commit to protecting the lives of civilians across northern Syria.

  • Agitate to make the UN Security Council responsible in monitoring adherence to international humanitarian and human rights laws and to hold perpetrators accountable for war crime violations – even if member states complicit in this massacre have seats in the UNSC.

  • Ensure immediate protection to displaced civilians and provide immediate shelter, medical and food resources.

The South Bend groups’ event description clarified, “We oppose the war crimes committed in Syria by local oppressors and by all regional and global imperialist powers including the United States, Turkey, Russia, and Iran.”

In the past week, the Russian and Syrian governments have conducted over 200 airstrikes in Idlib, including one that killed 11 civilians, injured 50 others, and destroyed a hospital. These bombings have forced 6,500 children to flee their homes each day. At least 700,000 displaced Syrians are fleeing toward the border, but Turkey has closed it to these refugees. Since May 2019, Putin and Assad’s governments bombed more than 60 hospitals in Idlib, and the heavily lopsided violence has, on average, killed one child every day. The Syrian-American doctor Zaher Sahloul recently observed that Idlib has become a “large concentration camp.”

Amenah Masri, a Syrian-American activist from Aleppo and a member of the Syrian American Council and Promoting Enduring Peace, sent the following statement in support of the South Bend event:

“Syria and the people of Syria are on my mind every day and every second. All that they have been asking for is peace, equality and freedom. Unfortunately what they got was barrel bombs and detention. Idlib contains displaced Syrians from all the other provinces. More displacement is expected as Russia and Assad are advancing. People have no choice. The borders are closed on one side and Assad approaches from the other side. We need to speak up for the people of Idlib.”

The South Bend organizers stated, “While Assad claims Idlib is a terrorist enclave, the truth is that the vast majority of the population are the 3 million civilians, 1 million of them children. Moreover, the worst terrorist in Syria is Assad, whose side has been responsible for 92% of civilian deaths in Syria since 2011, totaling over 200,000 civilians. The popular movements in Idlib are protesting not just against Assad but also against militarily dominant jihadists of HTS (Hayat Tahrir Sham, formerly linked to Al-Qaeda).”

Organizers were inspired by a recent Syria solidarity photo posted by Food Not Bombs—Los Angeles.

Here is a petition by Syrians that that includes the demands listed above: “Syrians Call Upon the World to Act Urgently to Stop the Intensified Bombings of Civilians in Idlib

Here is recommended reading on Idlib by Syrian authors. The South Bend organizers do not necessarily endorse all of the content of these articles:

Idlib Resists” by Leila al-Shami (New Politics)

The Genocidal Regime is Still in Power” by Yassin al-Haj Saleh and Loubna Mrie (Democracy Now!)

I’m a Doctor Who Has Seen the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crises—But the Suffering I’ve Seen in Syria is Unprecedented” by Zaher Sahloul (Independent)

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