Syria and crimes against humanity

Sir, – Lara Marlowe in reviewing Patrick Cockburn's latest book writes that he believes if the West wants to help Syria, it should recognise that Bashar al-Assad is going to hold on to power ("War in the Age of Trump: Four years of fighting in Iraq and Syria", Books, August 15th).

But how would that help the Syrian people?

Assad retained power in the face of a massive peaceful uprising in 2011 by using extreme military force as he gunned down protesters and went on to disappear and detain tens of thousands with many of them dying under torture.

From the start of that brutal crackdown, his militias daubed slogans on walls “Assad or we burn the country”, and almost 10 years later it is clear they have been true to that slogan.


Indeed, it is important that we do not forget what happened in Syria since 2011 to understand why we cannot help Syria by simply forgetting about the crimes against humanity committed by Assad and his allies Russia and Iran in sustaining him in power.

At present over half the population have been forced to flee their homes, with over six million internally displaced and about the same number refugees outside the country.

Assad and his regime clearly do not want them back. “Law Number 10”, a decree which gave his regime the right to seize the homes of those who fled, makes that abundantly clear.

Reports that returning refugees continue to be disappeared and tortured to death underlines that fact, as also confirmed by an Irish Times investigation by Sally Hayden.

Finally, it is worth repeating the words of former air force intelligence chief Jamil al-Hassan after a meeting with senior military officers: “A Syria with 10 million trustworthy people obedient to the leadership is better than a Syria with 30 million vandals”.

The only way we can help Syria is by helping those Syrians working hard to bring those responsible for crimes against humanity to justice to create the conditions that would allow the people of the country to determine their own destiny. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.