Arms Flow as Crisis in Syria Worsens

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A rebel machine gunner watches Syrian army positions 500 metres away in the town of Maarat al-Numan, on November 17, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

As the two-year-mark approaches, the conflict in Syria continues to escalate across the board.The number of refugees has reached one million, as thousands flee across the border daily. Millions of dollars in aid has arrived in the form of food, medicine, and most recently arms.The latest news out of Syria reports that a group of 20 U.N. peacekeepers are being detained by Syrian rebels in the contentious Golan Heights are between Syria and Israel.

Lara Setrakian is a journalist and founder of the Syria Deeply news website. Dr. Zaher Sahloul has seen the needs of Syrian refugees firsthand; he returned from a medical aid mission three weeks ago.

Setrakian describes the situation on the ground as “tenuous at best.” Major areas of the northern part of the country are now rebel controlled and the regime is bombing some of  them heavily, resulting in a situation where life is even more difficult for civilians under rebel rule. She says that this environment is, “creating the conditions for a very, very difficult governance picture ... Essentially, Bahsir Al Assad has created a situation in which all he has to do is keep the rebels from controlling the country and ruling it effectively and that’s considered victory in his eyes.”

Dr. Sahloul knows firsthand the devastating impact of this conflict on Syrians, 1 million of whom now find themselves living as refugees. According to Sahloul, that official number is low and doesn’t represent the numerous refugees who are not officially registered as such: “Every Syrian family I know outside of Syria...have family members who fled Syria and are living with them. And they are not considered refugees.”

As the conflict continues to escalate, the bordering nations of Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan are struggling under the influx of violence and refugees. Setrakian fears these countries cannot afford the conflict that is spilling over into their borders, saying, “This is a heavy weight being placed on all of Syria’s neighboring countries.” She believes that countries like Lebanon and Jordan simply cannot remain stable with open warfare on their borders.

Guests:

Dr. Zaher Sahloul and Lara Setrakian

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman

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