WED 20 - 3 - 2019
Date: Apr 12, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Civilians from Ghouta weigh impact of U.S. strikes
Gemma Fox| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: As civilians evacuated from Eastern Ghouta try to find their feet in their new surroundings, some argue a military strike against President Bashar Assad might be the push needed to finally bring about a peaceful solution to Syria’s war. Ala al-Ahmar, an activist from Kafr Batna in Eastern Ghouta, told The Daily Star he doesn’t believe U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats of military action are empty.

Trump’s warning comes in the wake of a suspected regime chemical attack Saturday in Ghouta.

“The world needs to take a stand against these inhumane actions,” Ahmar said. “The regime has challenged the international community more than once by using chlorine gas against civilians in Syria.”

But Eyad Srewel, who worked with a local non-governmental organization, is less hopeful.

“I doubt that Trump has that much sympathy toward us,” he said. “The last time the U.S. carried out an airstrike it was just for show, the regime knew about it five hours beforehand, and it didn’t target the main bases.”

He would not therefore support a similar ineffective airstrike, he said, but would back one that would bring about real change.

“No one wants another war,” Mohammad al-Rahmoon said, “but I support any solution that could bring about peace, I hope Trump will do that.”

Still stuck in Ghouta, Rahmoon told The Daily Star that he has been one of the doctors treating patients brought in after the chemical attack.

“I’m exhausted,” he said. “I’m scared that at any moment there will be another bombardment, or the regime knocking on my door.”

Unable to get on the bus Wednesday, he hopes to be evacuated soon.

Those already evacuated attempt to build new lives in northern Syria, but find challenges in integrating with their unfamiliar surrounding.

Srewel left with his wife and daughter a few days ago, but said most of his relatives stayed in Ghouta for fear of leaving their homes.

He is now trying to build a new life in the city of Sarmada, some 400 kilometers from Ghouta, but is concerned about those left behind.

“I’m really worried about my family, I can’t stop thinking about them,” he said.

His wife and his daughter are also struggling to adapt, he said, feeling isolated and not knowing anyone.

Fighters are also being evacuated alongside civilians, but their presence is causing problems for those arriving in areas held by hostile factions.

Dozens protested as a convoy of 3,800, including 1,300 Jaish al-Islam fighters, was blocked from entering the town of Al-Bab in northern Syria Wednesday. Jaish al-Islam held the key town of Douma in Ghouta, and negotiations to evacuate the group proved the most difficult.

In total 165,123 people have been evacuated from Ghouta, the Hezbollah-run War Media Center reported, citing the Russian military.

“This was forced displacement of people from their towns, their cities.” Ahmar said.

“The situation in the north definitely does not feel any safer.”

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