The heaviest bombing in years has killed over 200 people, mostly civilians, at rebel-held eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, in Syria earlier this week. The horrific tales and images of government forces bombing the area are pouring out, as the country has been at war with itself for nearly seven years, with no solution in sight. The ongoing multi-front civil war, fought primarily between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad along with allies, and multiple opposing forces, is a spinoff from the 2011 Arab Spring movements of 2011 when protests seeking his ouster were violently put down by the Russia-backed President. The war has been going on so long that often it has led to farcical situations, like when Russian and US bombers came close to each other, as the growth of ISIS gave the conflict more tragic facets.
The conflict’s worst aspect is that its biggest casualties are civilians. This collateral damage seems unavoidable to the fighting forces as terrorists aiming to destroy the symbols of the state tend to hide among ordinary people. The situation in Afghanistan is much the same, where the wrath of the US forces often turns on the local populace while terrorist-rebels hide in Pakistan and carry out raids. Will all involved in the conflict — Syria, Russia, Iran, Turkey, ISIS and the US and its allies — ever be able to pledge that they will try to avoid collateral damage, including to innocent children? As a grave humanitarian tragedy grips much of West Asia, the conflicts go on to such an extent that we begin to lose faith in humanity. What can peace lovers of the world do except to pray for Syrians?