Syrian army ‘main driver’ for refugee crisis

September 29, 2015 4:18 am

Deadly barrel bombs dropped by Syrian army helicopters on
opposition-held neighborhoods of are the main driver behind the
refugee crisis that has overwhelmed neighboring countries and now
Europe, speakers at a panel held at the United Nations said Monday.
Kenneth
Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, urged the
international community to put an end to President Bashar Assad’s
indiscriminate use of the bombs, saying the tactic also undermines the
war against the Islamic State group.
“It is a recruitment bonanza
for ISIS because the group can claim to be standing up to these
atrocities,” he said. He said the explosives are being used for the sole
purpose of terrorizing the population and have played a major role in
fueling one the largest exodus of people since World War II.
Barrel
bombs are makeshift shrapnel-packed explosive devices that Syrian
forces continue to dump on rebel-held neighborhoods from helicopters,
killing thousands of civilians over the past four years.

“We are tired of collecting limbs,” said Raed Saleh, head of
the Syrian Civil defence. “We ask ourselves as we dig out people from
the rubble, whether we are next.”
They were speaking at the UN Monday as part of a special event on President Bashar Assad’s use of the bombs.
Enforcing
a no-fly zone that would neutralize Assad’s warplanes and helicopters
would save 200 lives a week, said Khaled Khoja, leader of the main
Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, an opposition group. He is in
New York trying to convince world leaders of the urgent need for safe
zones and a no-fly area in Syria, something the United States has so far
resisted.




“The principal driver of the two biggest challenges that
the international community faces — the refugee crisis and the threat
of extremism — is the indiscriminate killing of civilians, mainly
through air attack,” Khoja said.
“It does not need to be this way. There is still time to avoid another Rwanda.”

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