Wednesday, September 5, 2012

'Now we know we will get no help from the West'

The town of al-Bab is paying for its resistance, with 32 dead in the latest strike. Kim Sengupta speaks to survivors who have lost all hope of deliverance

Kim Sengupta
The Independent

"Ahmed al-Sa'eed had been queuing for bread when the air strikes and shelling began. The dozens of people who had been waiting patiently in line for more than two hours dispersed, frantically running home through streets being hit by rocket fire to make sure their families were alright.

The house where Ahmed lived in the Syrian town of al-Bab with his family received direct hits from Bashar al-Assad's warplanes on Monday, the latest in a series of punitive and lethal assaults from air and ground. The front half collapsed into the street, flames shot out from the back. He joined neighbours frantically digging with anything at hand through the dust to try and find those buried under the rubble.....

Thirty six people were thought to have died, although the figure was later reduced to 32. I knew eight of those who were killed, including Ahmed's family, having met them during my stay in the town last month.

Of these eight, only one, Yahya Mohammed Nassar, was a rebel fighter. Another, Ibrahim al-Hamdo, an activist, had taken part in protests but had never held a gun.

There were no obvious military targets in any of the areas bombarded at the start of this week. Al-Bab is paying a hard price for its defiance; fighters from there formed the largest contingent to take part in the defence of Aleppo and the residents had withstood regular attacks from a military base on the outskirts before chasing out the soldiers.

Around 250 people have been killed since the start of the uprising and quarter of its population of 200,000 are refugees, either in outlying villages or across the border in Turkey......

.... A jet, a Czech-made L-39 Albatross, repeatedly strafed the base and later fired into a residential neighbourhood. An 11-year-old boy, Abed al-Rahman, lost a leg in a missile strike. It was one of the first indications that the regime was preparing to use air strikes with impunity in civilian areas.....

To the people of al-Bab such posturing just draws hollow laughter. Omar Abdullah al-Hani, whose 73-year-old father Abdullah was injured in the attack, said: "So they will let Bashar kill children, old people, as long as he does not use chemical weapons. What are they afraid of, chemical gasses getting to Europe and America? We know we are not going to get any help from West; we are alone, we don't need their empty words.""

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