World Beat: Syria’s winter of pain

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It’s snowing and freezing cold in war-torn Syria, and 80 percent of the people fear starvation. Two and a half million refugees, mostly women and children, have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere. An additional four million are displaced within Syria. The death toll is at least 126,000.

Areas held by anti-Assad rebels are the most severely affected. The government’s bombs kill and maim, and force people to live on the street and in abandoned shopping malls, schools, and mosques. Medical care is nearly non-existent and so is United Nations humanitarian aid, because UN regulations restrict aid to only government-controlled distribution.

U.S. officials claim they have sent and pledged gobs of dollars. But they have approved a mere 90 refugee applications since the civil war began. And the U.S. has blocked all anti-aircraft weapons from reaching the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Despite immense suffering and military handicaps, armed and unarmed revolutionary rebels continue to combat Assad and their other adversary — the despised jihadist “rebels” who fight to impose a Taliban-like state. The good news is that the FSA ousted the Al-Qaida-affiliated group from its last major base in Aleppo on January 8.

To send aid, contact Salaam Cultural Museum in Seattle: SalaamCM@hotmail.com.

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