Assad BOMBS earthquake-hit rebel-held area as rescuers try to save Syrians trapped beneath rubble
The Syrian government shelled an opposition-held area of the country immediately after Monday’s catastrophic earthquake, the UK said.
Alicia Kearns MP, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned President Bashar al-Assad for launching a “truly callous and appalling attack” on the northwestern Syrian city of Marea, which was hit by the earthquake.
Marea is located about 70 miles south of the Turkish city of Pazarcik, which is near the epicenter of Monday’s magnitude 7.8 quake. So far, more than 9,500 people have been confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria. The number is expected to increase.
Kearns said the town in Syria’s opposition-controlled enclave had come under fire as locals grappled with the immediate aftermath of the deadly quake.
‘Yesterday he [Assad] shelled Marea, which was an area affected by the earthquake, in what was a truly callous and appalling attack and opportunism to try to attack and destroy the moderate opposition,” Ms Kearns told British MPs on Tuesday.
The Syrian government shelled an opposition-held area of the country immediately after Monday’s catastrophic earthquake, the UK said. Pictured: Smoke rises from an airstrike in rebel-held Idlin, Syria, in this 2019 file photo
Responding to the MP’s statement, the UK Foreign Secretary criticized the Assad regime for the “completely unacceptable bombing”.
“Unfortunately, it speaks to a long-standing pattern of behavior by the Assad regime, a regime that we condemn, have sanctioned, and will continue to impose sanctions, working with our international friends and partners, to try to prevent behavior like this from happening again.” . ,’ he said.
Kearns was “absolutely right to highlight the completely unacceptable shelling of areas in the immediate aftermath of this natural disaster,” he added.
The remarks came after the White Helmets organization appealed to diplomats, asking them to put pressure on Damascas to ensure there is no shelling in quake-hit areas.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Red Crescent has called on Western countries to lift sanctions and provide aid as the Assad government remains a pariah in the West, complicating international cross-border relief efforts.
“I call for the lifting of sanctions against Syria. This is the most important thing for us,’ the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Hboubati, told a press conference in Damascus, stressing the need for construction machinery for the rescue effort.
Sanctions by the US, EU and some Arab countries have been in place since 2011, after the Assad government cracked down on protests against his rule.
Meanwhile, Assad’s daughter, Zein al-Assad, 19, took to Instagram, telling her followers to “be careful who you donate to,” while sharing a link for donations to people in the rebel-held region. from Syria.
MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (pictured in 2021) for launching a “truly callous and egregious attack” on the northwestern city of Marea. of Syria and which was hit by the earthquake
MP Alicia Kearns (left) said the town in Syria’s opposition-held enclave had come under attack as locals grappled with the immediate aftermath of the deadly quake. Responding to the MP’s statement, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (pictured right on February 7) criticized the Assad regime for the “completely unacceptable bombing.”
‘This is a group that supports terrorists in Idlib. Donations will not go to [the government controlled regions of] Aleppo, Latakia or Hama’, he wrote, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, which saw his post on his private account.
Zein lives in London, where he is believed to have fled with Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, at the start of the nearly 12-year Syrian civil war.
Assad’s government has pushed for years for all humanitarian aid to be sent from Syria, including to the opposition-controlled enclave. The UN has increased cross-conflict line deliveries, but not enough for the millions of people in need.
Residents of the earthquake-ravaged town of Jandairis in northern Syria used their bare hands and pickaxes to search for survivors.
“My whole family is down there: my sons, my daughter, my son-in-law… There is no one else to get them out,” said Ali Battal, his face smeared with blood and a woolen shawl wrapped around his head against the bitter cold. .
I hear their voices. I know they are alive but there is no one to rescue them,” added the man in his 60s.
The Syrian Health Ministry reported damage in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus, where Russia is leasing a naval facility.
After a decade of civil war and Syrian-Russian airstrikes, the country’s northwestern region has already seen destroyed hospitals, a collapsing economy and shortages of electricity, fuel and water.
Pictured: A map showing the location of Marea, a Syrian city shelled by the Assad regime on Monday, shortly after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the region.
Syrian civilians and rescue workers gather at a collapsed building on February 7, in Jandairis.
A Syrian man carries the body of a child on February 7, 2023 in the town of Jandairis.
Syrian President Bashar Assad (right) is seen with his 19-year-old daughter, Zein al-Assad, who tried to persuade his supporters not to donate to rebel-held areas in Syria in a post on Instagram, saying that the money would go to ‘terrorists’
Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo, the commercial center of Syria before the war, often collapsed due to crumbling infrastructure and bomb damage.
There are fears that the death toll will rise inexorably, with WHO officials estimating that as many as 20,000 people may have died from the quake, which struck overnight.
The WHO warned that up to 23 million people could be affected by the major earthquake and urged nations to quickly send aid to the disaster zone.
Washington and the European Commission said on Monday that humanitarian programs supported by them were responding to the destruction in Syria.
The UN cultural agency UNESCO also said it was ready to provide assistance after two sites on its World Heritage list in Syria and Turkey were damaged.
In addition to the damage to Aleppo’s old city and the fortress in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, UNESCO said at least three other World Heritage sites could be affected.
Syria has activated the EU’s civil protection mechanism, European Commission crisis management chief Janez Lenarcic said on Wednesday.
“Early today, this morning, we received a request from the Syrian government for assistance through the civil protection mechanism,” European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic told reporters.
Lenarcic said member states are encouraged to contribute the requested assistance.
Elsewhere in the country after the quake, inmates rioted at a jail that housed mostly members of the Islamic State group in northwest Syria, with at least 20 escaping, a source at the facility told the news agency. AFP.