The Syrian American Council, the largest and oldest Syrian American grassroots organization, welcomes reports about an understanding, in broad terms, between the United States and Turkey for an ISIS-free safe zone that would be implemented in partnership with the moderate Syrian opposition.
The Syrian population has suffered tremendously under ISIS. In January 2014, seven months before American air strikes were launched against ISIS, Syrian civilians in opposition areas launched a protest movement that led to an armed rebellion against ISIS in northern Syria. Since then, thousands of Syrian rebels and civilians have perished in the fight against ISIS while pushing ISIS back from many areas of Syria.
The Syrian American community urges that such a zone be expanded to protect civilians from barrel bomb attacks. As Secretary of State John Kerry has noted, the Assad regime is a magnet for ISIS. Regime barrel bombs are the biggest killer of civilians in Syria and serve as an ISIS recruitment tool. Barrel bombs have also been used by Assad to weaken rebel groups fighting ISIS and to prevent legitimate civilian governance alternatives to ISIS from emerging.
"We welcome the recent Turkish actions in Syria and hope that they are quickly and fully embraced by the Obama Administration," said Mirna Barq, President of the Syrian American Council. "There is no time to lose. The protection of civilians near the Turkish border is a moral imperative and the strategically smart thing to do," she added.