MAY 2, 2016

Istanbul, Turkey – The Day After (TDA), a Syrian civil society organization working to support a democratic transition in Syria, condemns in the strongest possible terms, airstrikes by the Assad regime and Russia on civilian infrastructure, including two hospitals in Aleppo city. Regime air strikes killed hundreds this past week, including the city’s last remaining pediatrician. TDA also holds the international community accountable for their failure to enforce the cessation of hostilities. The U.N. did not institute clear mechanisms to monitor the truce leaving it vulnerable to breaches, particularly from the regime with its asymmetric air capabilities.

TDA urges the international community to pressure Russia and the regime to reinstitute the truce. During the eight-week cessation of hostilities, the pause in horrendous daily violence facilitated the return of peaceful nation-wide, anti-regime protests and saw a slight return to normalcy in daily life for civilians. The protests reasserted Syrian demands for a democratic alternative to the Assad regime’s dictatorship and rejected extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. A resumption of the cessation of hostilities is urgently needed to protect civilians and allow civil society to operate, enhancing their ability to marginalize extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra as they were successfully doing.

“It has been especially horrifying witnessing the regime unleash this new round of airstrikes on civilians after a period of relative calm that civilians got used to,” said TDA Executive Director, Wael Sawah. “While the truce allowed civil society to push back against extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra, the resumption of regime aerial bombardment has allowed Nusra to exploit the situation, joining the regime in killing hundreds of civilians this past week.”

We urge the international community to do everything in its power to extend the “regime of calm” — a temporary local truce — in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus and the countryside of northern Latakia province, to cover all of Syria and last longer than the negotiated 24 to 48 hour “lull” in fighting. The international community must act resolutely to achieve a lasting peace, and outline clear mechanisms for monitoring that peace.