WASHINGTON D.C., OCTOBER 28, 2019 – The Syrian American Council is grateful to the U.S. Special Forces whose brave actions Saturday have rid the world of ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an important milestone that will require further action and oversight. Following this historic event, the Syrian American Council calls for the U.S. government to focus on the root cause of extremism in Syria – Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.
Assad, Russia and Iran have used extremist groups like ISIS as tools to silence the Syrian people’s calls for freedom and help keep Assad in power. The regime released extremists from prison to fuel terrorist movements as it detained, tortured and murdered peaceful protestors and activists. The regime conducted oil deals with ISIS and evacuated known ISIS fighters from besieged areas, as it bombed hospitals, dropped chemical weapons, demolished entire cities, and drove millions of Syrians from the country.
The targeted U.S. operation to take out Baghdadi in Idlib on Saturday, and the second operation that killed his deputy Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir in Aleppo on Sunday, prove that an effective strategy to fight terrorism in Syria does not put innocent civilians in the crosshairs.
This is a stark contrast with the regime, Russia and Iran, who only pretend to be fighting so-called terrorists. On Sunday, while the United States was in the middle of its precision attacks on ISIS leaders, the Assad regime targeted homes and a school in western Idlib, killing a child named Bashar Shaar. Monday, Russia claimed it launched an airstrike in rural Idlib, one of the last strongholds of the opposition to Assad, against the headquarters of an armed group. In reality, however, they bombed the home of a farmer named Ahmad and his wife Nour, killing the elderly couple and injuring their children.
Syrians around the world who were subjected to the cruelty of Baghdadi’s caliphate or lost loved ones to ISIS are celebrating the news of his death. ISIS has wrought tremendous suffering and pain on the Syrian people and remains a threat to civil society and democratic values in the country, the region and around the world. While these anti-ISIS operations should continue, the world must also focus on ending the brutality that allowed ISIS to thrive in the first place. Terrorism will never be defeated, and justice, freedom, human rights and democratic principles will never prevail in Syria as long as a dictator – who empowers groups like ISIS while bombing civilians – remains in power.
Michelle R. Taylor