The Forgotten Children of Syria

It is difficult to escape the unfolding images of the bloodshed in Syria, which has been going on since 2011. It is even harder to watch the children, some who were born in that war. Some who died during it never knowing what it is like to live in a country not mired in conflict. Nor would they see the world where bombs aren’t flying above their heads or the sounds of fighter jets echoing in the distance.

Those children have also not heard their friends’ laughter as they play outside because the sound of gunfire almost always drowns it. The gunfire that the West is ignoring to stop or that Russia and China continue to prevent the United Nations Security Council from interfering in. Russia and China don’t care because it is not their children who can identify the sound of bombs and fighter jets faster than they can identify Baby Shark Dance.

Those Syrian children are displaced because the fighting forced their parents to take them to a refugee camp or shelter where they will be safe. They will be safe for a moment before another bomb lands near them, and they are forced yet again to move before another shell lands in their living room or on their balcony and maims or kills their parent/s or siblings or grandparents. And those children will see that right in front of them. They will bear witness to war crimes and the silence of the West. In Syria, three-year-olds are far too knowledgeable about war, instead of playing on the streets.

I know how those children feel because, like them, my family and I have bared witness to the genocide in Bosnia. The only difference is, part of my childhood was before the war, and the other half was during it. In peace, I remember the laughter of my friends as we buzzed around our apartment building on roller-skates annoying our neighbors. The other half was when the war started. I also saw fighter jets flying in the distance, and I know what bombing sounds like, and how much damage it can produce, and I know what enemy looks like, the enemy that are Serbs whose generals and other members are not sitting in jails as war criminals. But while Europe remained silent about the war in Bosnia, it was the American government and their brave military that ended it. They ended it so that many of my countrymen and women and I did not have to hear the bombing any more or see our enemy face to face as they pointed their Russian made weapons at our foreheads.

But inside Idlib is like being inside a furnace that Bashar al Assad, a war criminal, and a murderer or his people backed by Russia and Iran, continues to terrorize his people. He is intentionally and indiscriminately destroying the infrastructure of Idlib to force the people to flee, and 900,000 women and children have already fled. But Syria's tyrant isn’t stopping there; he is also targeting journalists who are telling the truth about his war crimes. Under international law, it is a war crime to kill journalists in war zones.

Those journalists are the only hope for those Syrian people to tell their truth and shame Russia, China, and the rest of the West for remaining silent. Russia and China also supported war crimes in Bosnia and continuously vetoed any UN resolution, which was to stop 3.5 years of bloodshed in Bosnia. And currently, apart from Syria, Russia and China support war crimes Iran and Saudi Arabia are committing in Yemen, where children are in the same devastating conflict as Syrian children.

The world should have interfered years ago and stopped al Assad. Instead, the word washed its hands of Middle East trapping millions in a never-ending war where even Turkey is getting deeper involved in albeit, Turkey is against al Assad. Turkey is also against the Kurds who have for so long and so bravely fought against ISIS. Now, Kurds have to fight an even bigger and more powerful enemy, a NATO member state-led by Turkish dictator President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even though Erdoğan is in bed with the Russians for energy reasons, but not for Al Assad.

Syria remains the most complicated theatre of war made more so by the silence of the West and for how long more, no one knows. But we know that the children of Syria remain forgotten as the world remains silent.

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