An official in the Syrian Coalition said that the systematic forced displacement of the civilian population in Damascus suburbs by the Assad regime is aimed at bringing about a demographic change in Syria and, consequently, dividing the country along sectarian lines.
Member of the Syrian Coalition Khatib Badlah condemned forcing the remaining civilian population of Daraya out of their homes. The Assad regime has significantly escalated bombardment of the Damascus suburb with barrel bombs and incendiary napalm over the past few months. The regime’s bombardment has laid the farmlands surrounding the district to waste, thus depriving the residents of their only source of food.
Moreover, regime forces have been hindering the introduction of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held district, under siege by regime forces and allied foreign militias for nearly four years.
The suffocating siege on Daraya is a stark example of the “kneel or starve” policy the Assad regime has pursued against rebel-held areas across Syria.
Badlah stressed that any project designed to partition Syria will be foiled by the Syrian people who will adamantly defend the unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
Meanwhile, spokesman for the local council in Darya Fadi Mohammed said that the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was fully aware of the situation in the besieged district. Mohammed emphasized that, contrary to de Mistura’s claims, the council had regularly informed the UN envoy about the latest developments in Daraya.
Mohammed pointed out that the statement de Mistura released on Friday night regarding the evacuation of Daraya is aimed at evading responsibility to protect the people of Daraya and preventing their forced displacement by the Assad regime.
Muhammad said that the United Nations and de Mistura bear responsibility for the safety of civilians of Daraya whom the Assad regime is currently evacuating to areas under its control in the Damascus outskirts.
He added that the many appeals the local council sent to stop the Assad regime’s violations of the “cessation of hostilities” agreement and its brutal onslaught on the district fell on deaf ears.
The UN and Staffan de Mistura chose to remain silent about the regime’s torching of Daraya farmlands, its deliberate bombing of its only field hospital, and its use of incendiary napalm against residential neighborhoods in the district, Muhammad added.
Spokesman of the local council confirmed that UN staff members and a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were aware of negotiations between rebel fighters in Daraya and the Assad regime. The forced displacement of Daraya residents was carried out under the watchful eye of the UN and under its supervision, he stressed.
Muhammad went on to say that the regime’s barbaric onslaught on Daraya has left its people with no other option but to leave their homes. He pointed out that the Assad regime openly threatened it would annihilate the district if the trapped rebel fighters and civilians refused to pull out of Daraya. The Russians and the Americans oversaw negotiations between the Assad regime and rebel fighters, he added.
The Assad regime at dawn today transferred around 400 rebel fighters and their families toward rebel-held areas in Idlib province. Around 700 civilians have been moved to regime-controlled areas northwest of Damascus, according to the agreement whereby Daraya is to be evacuated of its residents. (Source: Syrian Coalition + The New Arab)