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West's anti-Assad agenda ignores the facts in Syria

Published 02/10/2015

THE UK Government and mainstream media say that President Bashar Al-Assad is killing his own people in Syria. According to a recent BBC report, Assad is giving shelter to 1.6 million internally displaced Syrian refugees in the city of Latakia, who are well looked after. Is he killing his own people and saving their lives at the same time?

There should be some serious debate about this issue. It seems to me that the strongest case against Assad possibly amounts to an argument that he should have given up territory to rebels rather than attempt to retake it with inevitable loss of civilian lives.

Much is made of his use of barrel bombs, but according to figures from Human Rights Watch the average number of people killed by barrel bombs was two per bomb. That does not indicate that these barrel bombs are more deadly or indiscriminate than the munitions used by Western armies.

According to the Syrian Observatory, when the death toll in Syria reached 100,000, 45% of those killed were Assad fighters versus 15% rebels. Assad has clearly been facing a powerful armed assault since early on in this war.

David Cameron says that Assad has to step down. He has no right to make Assad's departure a condition of serious peace negotiations, and that applies even if Assad is the monster he claims him to be.

If the US/UK insist that Assad has to go, and he refuses, then peace talks come to a standstill. There is no other peace process, so the people of Syria are condemned to war with no end in sight. The US, with Russia, can enforce a ceasefire between Assad and moderate rebels, after which the Syrian army can lead the assault on Isil in Syria.

No other army can do that in a way which ensures stability after Isil have gone.

David Cameron should be using his influence to get Obama engaged in serious talks with Putin towards this end.

DR BRENDAN O'BRIEN

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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