Thursday, October 3, 2013

Syria: Fuel-Air Bombs Strike School

Last week, in the opposition-controlled city of Raqqa Syria, a government airstrike killed 16 people, 12 of which were students on their first day of school. The wounds and burns of victims indicate that fuel-air explosives (FAE) were used. FAE are known to be more powerful than typical high-explosive munitions and prone to indiscriminate impact in more populated areas. This type of weapon is therefore extremely dangerous, stemming from the fact that even if opposition forces were nearby, it would still most definitely put innocent civilians at risk due to its haphazard range. According to the article, no armed people or opposition administration offices were even nearby. What this horrendous act of violence shows to the world is that the Syrian government does not care about the lives of innocent civilians.

But the Syrian government wouldn’t just strike any old city, right? It is true that Raqqa has been held by opposition forces since March and has been frequently bombed since then. However, Human Rights Watch has recorded repeated indiscriminate and even deliberate attacks on civilians by the Syrian government. This type of targeted attack is a serious violation of the laws of war.

Was it a coincidence that is was a school that was bombed? In recent years, thousands of schools have been destroyed or damaged, lowering enrollment rates. This sends a serious message to Syrians: there is a risk of death for going to school. It is a given for us here in the United States to go to school. We are able to learn without the constant fear of being hurt, attacked, or killed. However, in Syria, their right to an education has clearly been threatened by these appalling air strikes. 

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