Bilad al-Sham: The Gunman’s Vacation Destination

SHAM

The civil war in Syria ain’t what it used to be. Even the designation, ‘civil war’, may be too polite these days, too optimistic a term for the black hole which much of the country has become. While government forces are still united under al-Assad in the south, the opposition in the north has fractured and been overshadowed by a calamity of different causes and rallying cries. Though still anti-Assad in many ways, a lull in the conflict to a certain state of stability, with only a few towns and suburbs changing hands here and there, has turned the rag-tag assembly of freedom and foreign fighters against themselves, seeking to fill a power vacuum that hardly exists. A common enemy seems no longer enough to unite the causes, and the once hopeful rebel of Homs or Aleppo, who sought some sense of fairness or representation in his/her government, has been sidelined by an influx of fighters from all corners of the world. They arrive, jihad-ready, from as far as Australia and the United Kingdom, seeking glory, martyrdom, money, or simply a place to call their own.  Continue reading

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The Case Against al-Assad in Zemalka

On August 21st, some 500 to 1,300 people in eastern Damascus suffocated to death, many as they fled for safety or slept in their beds. This single event has run like an electric shock through the international community unlike any other before, painting the impression of an escalation in the conflict (but not really) and beckoning the international community over a rubicon they dug with their own hands. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the details and even the validity of this event as all the focus snaps to the inevitable bumbling response. al-Assad outright denies the use of any chemical weapons, Russia and skeptics call it a false-flag, and America and Israel claim to have out-of-the-park proof that it was a strike ordered by the government. There is fair reason to not trust the claims of either side, but independent of their claims, local reporting and international observers have pieced together a picture that very clearly indicts the Syrian army in Damascus with the chemical attack on Zemalka and the surrounding suburbs.

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