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Syrian who fled to Northern Ireland says air strikes on Assad would be welcomed

By Donna Deeney

A Syrian journalist who fled the country and resettled in Northern Ireland has voiced his support for action against the Assad regime.

Rami Zahra (36) has lived in Londonderry since May 2016 with his wife and young son, but still has family in Syria.

He has been alarmed by reports that dozens of people, including children, were killed during a suspected chemical attack in the formerly rebel-held town of Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region.

Cabinet ministers have agreed "on the need to take action" in Syria after concluding it was "highly likely" the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was responsible.

Mr Zahra said life for people there is so unbearable they actually envy those who die from natural causes.

He continued that he believes the military strikes being considered by the UK, US and France will not make the situation any worse for civilians but could stop the daily onslaught of bombs, torture and now chemical attacks from the Assad regime.

Mr Zahra said: "Whoever dies of natural causes in Syria is envied by Syrians.

"Syrians say to each other that dying of natural causes is better than by barrel bombs, chemical weapons, killed under torture or due to grief and sadness in tents away from their homes. I still have relatives in Syria who are living like others.

"They are facing difficulties in buying food and medicine, the lack of security, and the widespread militias who are fighting with Assad regime loot their houses. Life there is unbearable."

Mr Zahra continued: "Every day Syria has casualties, detention, rape and the destruction of the infrastructure, so a [missile] strike from the US will not be anything new.

"What could be new is that this strike is going to target those responsible for all these crimes, which is why Syrians are supporting it."

Mr Zahra still documents the daily atrocities suffered by his fellow countrymen in Syria.

In 2017, the Syrian Human Rights Network recorded 10,204 civilian deaths, 1,536 of which were women and 2,298 children.

He said it is difficult to predict what the future holds.

"What has happened in Syria has exceeded the limits of expectations of everyone. I believe this is due to the international inaction since Syrians took [to] the streets to demand the end of the injustice by the regime."

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