The latest in continuing reports of chemical weapons attacks by the Bashar Assad regime comes from besieged Aleppo Aug. 11. The UN is investigating evidence of an apparent chlorine attack on a rebel-held area of the city, which reportedly left several dead and many injured. The UN special envoy for Syria said a chlorine attack, if confirmed, would amount to a "war crime." Footage obtained by the BBC shows people with breathing difficulties being treated at a hospital. Men, women and children are shown being fitted with oxygen masks by medical staff. This at one of the few hospitals still functioning in Aleppo following the vicious campaign of bombing hospitals by the Assad regime and its Russian partners.
Just days earlier, at least 12 people were killed, including four children, and more than a dozen injured when a regime air-strike hit a hospital in the rebel-held town of Meles in Idlib governorate. (ARA News)
In an open letter addressed to President Obama, 15 physicians left in the bombed-out eastern areas of Aleppo on the day of the apparent chlorine attack made an urgent call for help in getting humanitarian aid to 300,000 civilians trapped in the city. The letter counted 42 air attacks on medical facilities in Syria just over the past month. The doctors called on the US to establish a no-fly zone: "Continued US inaction to protect the civilians of Syria means that our plight is being willfully tolerated by those in the international corridors of power… We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers, we need your action." (WP)
Moscow meanwhile announced a daily three-hour halt to the bombing of Aleppo to allow humanitarian convoys to enter the city—a move of course rejected as an insult by those under bombardment. Said Abd al-Salaam Abd al-Razzaq, military spokesman for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel militia: "Is this publicity that Russia is a neutral party? What is three hours? In those three hours they will just be bombing Idlib!" (Reuters)
How does the "anti-war" (sic) left in the United States respond to all this? The (always predictable) ANSWER Coalition issues an "action alert" entitled "Hands off Syria! Defeat H.R. 5732!" It reads: "Congress is currently debating an extremely dangerous, pro-war bill called House Resolution 5732, misleadingly titled the 'Syrian Civilian Protection Act.' It is essentially a war cry for intervention in Syria. Not only would it tighten the sanctions that have been a centerpiece of US regime change efforts, but it would require the president to assess the possibility of enforcing a 'no-fly zone' over the country."
Even less openly pro-Assad formations than ANSWER react similarly. World Without War issues a statement on Facebook at least calling for "humanitarian access to Syria's second largest city"—but rejecting a no-fly zone, leaving cluelessly open the question of how such "humanitarian access" can be brought about.
In a response to World Without War on Facebook, Syrian activist Kenan Rahmani writes: "While Assad is bombing hospitals and preventing humanitarian access from reaching besieged civilians, the 'anti-war' folks are urging Obama to reject protection and instead to send humanitarian aid that can never be delivered. How is that different than Bashar al-Assad's advocacy work?"
Damn good question. The besieged Syrians have been calling for a no-fly zone for years now, but the line of the "anti-war" left remains entirely denialist, even now that the Assad regime is clearly escalating to genocide. We understand the obvious problems with a no-fly zone—the risk of direct US confrontation with Russia, and yet further entanglement of Syria in imperial rivalries. But merely ignoring the actual problem, denying the reality of popular revolution and regime genocide in Syria, seeing only "regime change" conspiracies that render the Syrians voiceless and invisible… all this constitutes an unforgivable betrayal of the values of human solidarity that the left supposedly stands for.