Syria
Raqqa

Survivors struggle four years after battle of Raqqa

Children in Raqqa, northeast Syria, are still living among ruins, with limited water, electricity, and access to education, four years after the city was taken from ISIS, according to a new report by Save the Children. Thousands of people have returned to Raqqa since the battle for the city ended in 2017. But levels of rebuilding and rehabilitation of housing remain low, with children living in constant fear of their homes collapsing on top of them. Research estimates that 36% of the city’s buildings remain entirely destroyed. At the peak of the bombing campaign, Raqqa faced 150 air-strikes a day. (Photo: Mahmoud Bali/VOA via Wikimedia)

Syria
syria refugees

Syria: Russia plays ‘political games’ with aid access

The UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend the sole humanitarian aid crossing into Syria—one day before it was set to close. The vote on the Bab al-Hawa crossing came after weeks of intense negotiations between Washington, which wants to expand the number of aid corridors into Syria, and Moscow, which had threatened to block continuation of the aid program altogether in the name of protecting Syrian sovereignty. Some 1,000 truckloads of aid pass through Bab al-Hawa each month—and humanitarian agencies say this is insufficient to address the scale of the disaster in Syria’s north. In 2014, the Security Council approved four border crossings for aid into Syria. But Russia has since used its veto to restrict aid access to the rebel-held north, leaving only Bab al-Hawa open. (Photo: UNICEF via UN News)

Europe
srebrenica

Podcast: against Bosnia revisionism

In Episode 79 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, and reads selections from Surviving the Peace: The Struggle for Postwar Recovery in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Peter Lippman. In his final chapter, “Atrocity Revisionism,” Lippman deftly deconstructs the rank genocide denial we have seen from paradoxical icons of the “left” such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. Presaging the similar denialism now seen concerning Syria, these “left” pundits created an impression among their gullible admirers that there was no genocide at Srebrenica—despite the fact that the remains of over 7,000 of the presumed 8,000 victims of the massacre have now been exhumed from mass graves and identified by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Srebrenica surviviors with images of the slain and missing: The Advocacy Project via OpenDemocracy)

Iran
syria

Biden’s air-strikes bode poorly for Iran nuke deal

US warplanes carried out strikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said the targets were arms depots in the border area used by the militias Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, which have carried out attacks against US personnel in Iraq for years. The militias have vowed to avenge the air-strikes. The strikes followed talks in Vienna on the Iran nuclear deal, including US re-entry, lifting of sanctions, and an Iranian return to compliance with limits on uranium enrichment. The discussions adjourned over a week ago, with Iranian officials saying a deal could be reached in the next round. However, since then, both Tehran and Washington have taken tougher public positions. (Image: Pixabay)

Syria
syria chemical attack

Podcast: chemwar and pseudo-left disinformation

In Episode 77 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg applauds The Young Turks for challenging the increasingly hegemonic pro-Assad consensus on the American “left,” with incisive programming on the 2018 Douma chemical attack and this year’s sham elections that confirmed the dictator’s rule. For calling out the relentless disinformation, they are of course coming under withering attack from Aaron Maté, Jimmy Dore, Katie Halper, Roger Waters and other stateside exponents of the Kremlin propaganda machine. Disgracefully, similar exponents, e.g., Ben Norton, are now predictably lining up behind the Burmese junta. Forthright repudiation of this toxic tendency is long overdue. But does the TYT critique go far enough? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: SNHR)

Syria
Idlib

Syria: regime bombs first responder headquarters

Assad regime forces shelled a White Helmets civil defense center in northwest Syria, killing a rescuer and wounding three others. The destroyed center was in the town of Qastoun in the al-Ghab Plain of western Hama province. Local sources said that Russian-made Krasnopol guided missiles were used, indicating the deliberate targeting of the rescuers. Regime forces have escalated shelling of southern Idlib and western Hama provinces this month, as civilians return to their homes from displaced persons camps near the Turkish border. At least nine people have been killed, a school destroyed, and crops burned. (Photo via EA Worldview)

Europe
orwell

Podcast: George Orwell’s wartime dilemma

In Episode 76 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses and critiques The Duty to Stand Aside: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort by Eric Laursen. Orwell and Comfort were divided on the question of Allied bombardment of Germany in World War II—although they both united to support the free-speech rights of anarchist anti-war dissidents. With fascism and genocide again emerging on the world stage, their quarrell sheds light on the contemporary wars in Syria, Libya and elsewhere—and how progressives and especially anarchists in the West should respond. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: The Orwell Archive)

Syria
Atareb

Protest WHO board seat for Syrian regime

Doctors and healthcare workers held a demonstration outside a hospital in the Syrian city of Idlib, to protest the election of the Bashar Assad regime to the executive board of the World Health Organization (WHO)—the latest coup for normalization of the regime. “How can we trust WHO [when] one of its executive board members is the murderer who is killing my colleagues?” said Dr. Salem Abdan, head of health services for opposition-administered Idlib. Read a banner at the protest: “We reject that he who destroyed our hospitals be represented on the executive board.” Idlib province is part of a remaining rebel-held pocket in the northeast of the country, where Assad regime warplanes have for years been bombing hospitals and clinics. (Photo of bombed hospital in northern Syria via Daily Sabah)

Watching the Shadows
Roger Waters

Roger Waters: just another brick in the wall

In Episode 74 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rises to the odious duty of deflating an idol of his youth—former Pink Floyd frontman and creative genius Roger Waters. While he grandstands against the bombardment of Gaza, Waters spreads propaganda that seeks to deny and whitewash the equal and even greater crimes of Syria’s genocidal dictator Bashar Assad. Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall satirized rock stars who flirted with fascism, but Waters has now perversely turned into just what he was satirizing back then. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image via Wikipedia)

Syria
Manbij

Syria: Kurdish forces fire on protesters —again

Kurdish forces shot dead at least eight protesters at the town of Manbij in northern Syria. Demonstrations broke out against military conscription by the Kurdish-led autonomous administration, amid growing discontent over economic conditions. A curfew was imposed on the town, as many shops heeded a call for a general strike. Representatives of the Kurdish administration and its Asayish police force held talks with Arab tribal leaders after the violence. A joint statement said military conscription will be halted pending review and dialogue. All detained protesters are also to be released under the agreement. (Photo: Sgt. Nicole Paese/US Army via Kurdistan24)

Syria
Aleppo ruins

Syria: controlled elections amid crisis —again

Thoroughly controlled elections were held in Syria, with predictable results. Regime officials declared Bashar Assad the winner with 95.1% of the vote. Assad ran against two nominal challengers, with another 49 candidates disqualified. State media promoted Assad relentlessly; his posters were displayed on walls and billboards throughout regime-controlled territory. Several million Syrians within the country could not vote as they are outside regime-held areas. In opposition-held Idlib province, hundreds held protests against the “fake” elections, carrying the Free Syria flag. In another sign of resurgent opposition even within regime-controlled territory, a group of leading tribal and social figures in Daraa governorate (where the revolution first broke out a decade ago) released a statement declaring their rejection of the elections as “illegitimate.” (Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR)

Syria
qamishli

Syrian Kurdish militia fire on Arab protesters

Five are reported dead after Kurdish militiamen opened fire on local Arab residents protesting against a hike in fuel prices imposed by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in northern Syria. Protests were reported in several towns in al-Hasakah province, including Qamishli, al-Haddaja, al-Rashidiya and al-Haddadiya. The Autonomous Administration overturned the planned price hikes in response to the protests. However, the Syrian Democratic Forces, the military alliance supported by the Autonomous Administration, issued a statement warning that “protesting activities should not be turned into means to strike at peace and security,” and implying that the demonstrations had been stirred up by “outside propaganda.”  (Photo of Qamlishi protest: Ekrem Salih/Kurdistan24)