Dara’a was the first city to be besieged. Snipers took positions on mosques. 6,000 Syrian soldiers marched into the city, alongside the Fourth Armoured Division of the Syrian army, commanded by Bashar Al-Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad. By the end of the ten-day siege of the town, 326 Syrians had died, including more than 300 Syrian protesters and defected soldiers.
All’s fair in love and war, right?
This civil war began with peaceful protests in a town south of Damascus, called Dara’a, over the imprisonment and torture of 15 Syrian students, arrested for anti-government graffiti. Local security fired upon the protesters at the Omari Mosque, where four were killed.
For eight long years, bitter fighting has gone on between the Syrian Arab Republic, under Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian Interim Government under Anas al-Abdah. Former President Obama, on August 18th, 2011, said, “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way.” Following this was a series of small, however impactful, hits against the Syrian government. While never authorizing direct United States military action to aid the opposition, Americans were barred from doing business with the Syrian government, and imports of Syrian petroleum were halted. Additionally, Obama reportedly directed the CIA to provide intelligence, cash, and weapons to members of the Syrian opposition.
Without looking into the conflict itself, some may think, like myself weeks ago, that this is the only reasonable response to Syria’s situation in a historically American way. However, examining the conflict just a bit closer clearly shows which side America ought to support: neither.
Al-Assad’s government has international support from the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Hezbollah, among others. However, each and every supporter of Assad has ignored the violations of human rights his regime has perpetrated. While in the United States, Al-Assad gave interviews in perfect English and calmly answered questions about his crackdown on protestors. Thousands are being imprisoned and even executed by his regime.
Rather than bombing strategic military sites, the Assad regime has continuously attacked civilian populations in rebel-occupied areas. As if murdering their own constituents weren’t enough, in these bombardments the government has opted to use barrel bombs, in complete defiance of a United Nations Security Council Resolution explicitly forbidding the use of them.
With such a level of disregard for international law in the Assad regime, you might expect the Free Syrian Army to expose said disregard for propaganda and sympathy. You might expect the FSA to act in a geopolitically beneficial way.
The human rights violations by the Free Syrian Army and related rebel militias have been well-documented by the Human Rights Watch, the Washington Post, and several local publications including Naharnet. Despite backing from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and several other NATO members, the Free Syrian Army continues to recruit child soldiers, commit acts of genocide against religious minorities, and carry out kidnappings, torture, and executions.
Frankly, the sheer number of these transgressions is staggering by itself. In May of 2012, members of the Free Syrian Army kidnapped 16 Lebanese pilgrims in the border city of Aleppo. In September of 2012, 20 Syrian soldiers were executed in the same town. Just months later in November, following a series of attacks on checkpoints around the city of Saraqeb in northern Syria, at least 6 unarmed Syrian soldiers were executed by rebels. The Free Syrian Army and its supporters have absolutely no regard for the rules of war, and yet the supposed moral compass of the civilized world continues to support these savages.
Ultimately, we can always endlessly lie to ourselves and repeat the idea that whoever is fighting the bad guy must be a good guy by divine design. In reality, nothing denies that idea more in the modern world than the Syrian civil war, and frankly, the most moral thing the U.S. can do in this situation is to pull out completely.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.