THIS APPEAL IS TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE SYRIA PROGRAM OF THE NCF
The Next Century Foundation is working to promote peace and reconciliation in Syria. In practical terms this means engaging with all factions of the opposition whilst continuing to talk with those representing Syria's establishment in the hope that we can help facilitate a negotiated peace - the only credible option in the absence of Western intervention - and the only alternative to ongoing civil war.
The NCF estimate of the war dead total for Syria for the past year stands at 75,816. The total breaks down as follows:
July 2012 – June 2013
BACKGROUND NOTES ON SYRIA TODAY: On May 19, Syrian government forces, supported by a significant number of Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, began a major offensive to retake al-Qusayr, a Syrian town of about 30,000 people on the border with Lebanon. Opposition forces had largely controlled the strategically important town since July 2012. For two weeks, government forces subjected the town to intensive bombardment and enforced a siege.
Denial of safe passage to civilians trapped in fighting is in violation of the laws of war and has been a recurring issue during the Syrian armed conflict. A recent Human Rights Watch investigation into the government and Hezbollah attack on al-Qusayr, near Homs, claimed that the government’s refusal to allow humanitarian organizations access to the town appeared to have contributed to the deaths, that no safe evacuation routes were available to civilians, and wounded people were denied adequate medical care. “Many lives in al-Qusayr might have been saved if the Syrian government had allowed aid organizations to do their job,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch.
In late June, the Syrian government’s new “Jaish al-Watany” (a national volunteer force that has superseded the “Shabiha”) waged an eight day campaign to retake the remaining opposition-controlled areas of the old city of Homs, including the city’s Khaldiyeh and Baba Houds districts. This was a significant gain for the al-Assad government.
Fighting also continued in the city of Aleppo. North Aleppo is a crucial stronghold for the rebels, as well as the Damascus suburb of Qaboun. Government forces, sometimes backed by fighters of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, have recently launched a major countrywide offensive to reclaim territory lost to rebels, who operate in chaotic groups with ideologies ranging from secular to hard-line Islamic extremists.
The fighting in Syria has taken on increasingly sectarian undertones as Assad enjoys support from many in his Alawite sect and other religious minorities while the rebels are mainly Sunnis.
On July 12, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a statement saying it is “alarmed” by the situation in the old city of Homs and that it would like to bring in humanitarian assistance and enable the evacuation of civilians. However without the cooperation of both the Syrian government and the Opposition, this would be a near impossible task.
Opposition forces have imposed sieges on the government held Shia towns of Nubul and Zahra in Aleppo governorate, limiting access for approximately 70,000 people to food, fuel, and medical supplies, according to the UN Commission of Inquiry. The lack of medical supplies such as oxygen, antibiotics, and anaesthetics has become critical as the number of wounded increases.
The Syrian government rejected many international calls for the evacuation of civilians and refused to grant unconditional access to independent observers. The conflict has now ravaged Syria for 2 ½ years, with the country’s children hit the hardest.