At least 224 people were killed in the first week of Ramadan in Syria, with the majority of the deaths resulting from bombings by regime and Russian warplanes, according to figures from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Al Jazeera, June 13) Some of the worst carnage came when regime helicopters bombed the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya—hours after the arrival of its first food aid since 2012, residents said. The bombardment prevented the aid from being delivered to residents overnight. (BBC, June 10) Despite Moscow's announced "withdrawal" from Syria, Russia and the Assad regime continue with their atrocious campaign of bombing hospitals, with the most recent case in beseiged Aleppo. Air-strikes hit three hospitals in the rebel-held side of the city June 8, including a pediatrics center supported by the United Nations. (NYT, June 8) On the first day of Ramadan, June 6, at least 17 civilians including eight children were killed in air-strikes on a market in ISIS-held al-Asharah town, in Deir Az-Zour governorate. (The New Arab, June 6)
In perhaps the most unintentionally ironic use of the word "liberate" we've ever seen, Al Jazeera headlined June 7: "Defiant Assad vows to liberate every inch of Syria." At least the actual text of the article put "liberate" in quotes: "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to 'liberate' every inch of the country lost to rebel groups…" Assad himself is quoted: "As we liberated [Palmyra] and before it many areas, we will liberate every inch of Syria from their hands. Our only option is victory, otherwise Syria will not continue." Activists on the ground in Palmyra say the taking of the city from ISIS was "not a 'liberation'." Not only do facts point to a "propaganda game" by both Assad and ISIS, with the transfer of the city from one to the other arranged by both sides—but recovery of territory by a regime that is escalating to genocide in the areas it controls is an odd "liberation." ISIS and the Assad regime are twin genocidal entities, and opposing one without opposing the other is an absurdity.