WASHINGTON D.C., March 13, 2019–Last night, the Assad regime rained internationally banned white phosphorous weapons on the town of Tamane'a in Idlib, even as Russian warplanes were conducting air raids on other populated areas. This escalation comes after a string of Assad regime and Russian attacks on medical facilities, including an Assad regime artillery attack that killed a White Helmets rescue worker in Morek; regime artillery on a blood bank, hospital, and Civil Defense center in Saraqib; and a Russian “double tap” airstrike outside Jisr al-Shughur that deliberately targeted rescue workers and left one of them dead.
The Syrian American Council denounces the Assad regime and Russia's latest escalations against civilians in Idlib Province, home to 3 million residents and displaced persons from across Syria who have nowhere else in Syria toward which to flee. Russia's resumption of airstrikes, in particular, are only the latest evidence of Russian mendacity regarding its own ceasefires. Russia and Turkey signed a peace deal for Idlib last year that called for Turkish patrols along a buffer zone; Russia and the regime stepped up their strikes, in an apparent effort to scuttle the deal, soon after the patrols began last week.
The Syrian American Council therefore calls upon the United States and world community to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Russia and Assad so as to deter them from further attacks on Idlib civilians. Sanctions on Russia for its attacks on Idlib specifically should be introduced, expedited and expanded. Given that a full assault on Idlib could leave thousands dead and drive more than a million refugees across the border, the Syrian American Council also encourages the Trump Administration to place retaliatory airstrikes on the Assad regime under new consideration.
Michelle R. Taylor