Fall of Daraya: bitter fruit of Syria’s betrayal

After four years of siege and bombardment, the evacuation is underway of civilians and rebels from Daraya, the Damascus suburb that was an early cradle of the revolution. Rebel forces agreed to hand over control of the city to the regime in exchange for safe passage. Under terms of the deal, about 4,000 civilians will be transported to temporary shelter outside Damascus, while some 700 fighters will head to rebel-held Idlib after surrendering their weapons. But many residents are choosing to retreat to Idlib with the rebels. It seems no residents are being allowed to remain in the town. (NPR, BBC News, Aug. 26)

Just days before the deal was announced, a group of 42 women living in Daraya issued a passionate plea, urging international action to halt Bashar Assad's use of napalm on the city. Entitled "On napalm and starvation: An open letter to the world from the women of Daraya," the letter charges that the regime had recently escalated to use internationally outlawed napalm in its campaign of aerial terror—including the napalm-bombing on a hospital that put it "completely out of action." The regime and its Russian partners have made hospitals a sepcial target in their bombing campaign. Daraya had a pre-war population of around 80,000—now diminished by years of war, starvation and exodus. In April, women in Daraya issued a similar open letter saying they were on the verge of witnessing their children and relatives starve to death if aid did not reach them soon. (Middle East Eye, Aug. 22)