Analysis: Soaring Syria death toll brings intervention no closer

Thu Jan 3, 2013 9:54am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Yara Bayoumy and Alistair Lyon

AZAZ, Syria/LONDON (Reuters) - The death toll in Syria now exceeds 60,000, the United Nations says. Another 100,000 may die this year, warns U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. About 220 were killed on Wednesday alone.

"When numbers get serious, they leave a mark on your door," goes a song by American musician Paul Simon.

But in Syria those bloody notches show no signs of braking a headlong struggle to the death watched from afar by divided outside powers, most of whose leaders seem convinced that the risks of direct intervention outweigh any possible rewards.

Syrians realize they are essentially on their own, and 21 months after the start of protests against President Bashar al-Assad inspired by Arab revolts elsewhere, some of the civilians caught up in what has become a civil war are near despair.

"It's all nonsense," said Adnan Abu Raad, an elderly man wrapped in a scarf against the cold, as he watched fresh graves being dug after 11 people were killed in a weekend air strike in the rebel-held Syrian town of Azaz near the border with Turkey.

"Neither the Free Syrian Army nor Assad's forces can protect us. The two factions are fighting each other, but no one is dying except for the innocent, the children, women and elderly."

Abu Raad derided the peace efforts of Brahimi and his predecessor Kofi Annan as hypocrisy and dismissed reports of even limited outside help for the rebellion against Assad as fiction. "No one has sent us a single bullet. It's all a lie."

Some Western countries have provided what they call non-lethal aid to rebels, while some Arab states are reported to have sent weapons, mostly channeled through Turkey. Fighters complain of a dearth of ammunition even for the arms they have acquired.   Continued...

People gather at a mass burial for the victims purportedly killed during an artillery barrage from Syrian forces in Houla in this handout image dated May 26, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout