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Published on February 12th, 2016 | by Admin



CONTACT: Evan Barrett, 240-507-4215

Washington, DC – The Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS) expresses deep concern that the ceasefire plan announced yesterday by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) enables Russia, Iran, and the Assad government to continue their scorched-earth campaign against civilians. There is no provision in the ceasefire plan that refers to civilian protection.
The Assad government and its backers are responsible for over 96% of the civilian deaths in the Syrian conflict, through carpet bombing, indiscriminate barrel bomb attacks, chemical weapons, sieges, mass detention, and torture. The ceasefire plan provides no deterrence and no consequence for these continued acts.

The ceasefire announcement says it does not apply to ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations, nor does it apply to the groups that claim to be fighting them. Therefore, the plan does not require Russia, Assad, or Iranian-backed militias to alter their behavior in any way. Under the agreement, Russia can continue to carpet bomb whole cities if it claims a terrorist presence.

Russia has routinely claimed to be targeting ISIS when it has bombed civilian areas hundreds of miles from ISIS.
“We are deeply concerned that this announcement allows the international community to claim progress while the horrible trajectory on the ground continues,” said Muna Jondy, CDS Government Relations Chair, “As drafted, this ceasefire requires only the pro-democracy Syrian Opposition to adhere, while all other parties may continue their destruction of Syria and its people.”

The moderate Syrian opposition is the only party to the conflict that has not been accused of crimes against humanity. Under the new announcement, any action taken by the Opposition against Assad, the number one killer of civilians, will be considered a violation.

Despite the deep flaws in the agreement, CDS expresses hope that humanitarian access will be granted to the 1 million people living in besieged areas. Today, nearly fifty towns are besieged by the Assad government, two are besieged by opposition groups, and one is besieged by ISIS and Assad together. CDS continues to believe that a political solution to the Syrian conflict can be reached, and calls for serious action from the United States towards achieving civilian protection and a lasting peace.

The Coalition for a Democratic Syria is a group of Syrian-American non-profit organizations working together to bring about a swift end to the conflict and support the establishment of peace, freedom, and democracy in Syria. The CDS is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, non-partisan organization. The CDS includes: Syrian Emergency Task Force, United for Free Syria, Syrian American Council, Syrian American Alliance, Syrian Christians for Peace, the Association of Free Syrians, and the American Syriac Union.

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