U.S. STRESSES NEED FOR HUMANITARIAN AID TO REACH THOSE AFFECTED
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 17, 2017) — On Saturday, U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert issued a press release announcing that a 48-hour cease-fire in Syria’s southwest region took effect at mid-day, Syria time.
The announcement comes in the midst of that nation’s six-year-old civil war which has resulted in the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Syria is currently ruled by dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is believed to have used chemical weapons on his own people on several occasions. On April 7, President Trump gave the order for U.S. military forces to respond to an alleged chemical-weapons attack with 59 Tomahawk missiles to destroy a chemical-weapons storage facility believed to be located at an airfield near Homs.
Syria’s civil war began in early 2011 following initial protests in other countries in what came to be known as the “Arab Spring.” The conflict has encompassed various “opposition” forces, also known as “rebels,” seeking to overturn the Assad regime, which has received military support from Russia and the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have been identified as making up portions of the rebels, including fighters in what later evolved into ISIS.
Entire cities, including Christian churches, have been demolished, with hundreds of thousands of Syrians streaming into nearby countries as well as areas in the Mediterranean seeking refuge, while others have been relocated to the United States, Canada, the UK, France and other Western European nations.
The State Department press release reads as follows:
We understand that a 48 hour ceasefire went into effect at 12 noon Syria time in southwest Syria. We welcome any initiative to reduce tensions and violence in southern Syria and thereby call on the Syrian regime to live up to its own stated commitments during this ceasefire initiative.
We will judge this initiative by the results not the words. The opposition should similarly halt attacks to allow the ceasefire to endure – and hopefully be extended – and humanitarian aid to reach those in need. The United States will continue to support constructive efforts to de-escalate the violence in Syria and ensure humanitarian aide reaches those in need, while continuing the fight against ISIS and al Qaida.