Syrians demonstrate on the 12th anniversary of the anti-regime uprising

Several thousand Syrians demonstrated in the city of Idlib on Wednesday to mark the 12th anniversary of the first demonstrations against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 and to rule out any “normalisation” with Damascus.

The brutal suppression of this uprising in the wake of the “Arab Spring” triggered a deadly civil war that became more complex over the years with the intervention of multiple actors, and isolated Bashar al-Assad on diplomatic grounds. . Plan.

The conflict entered its 13th year on Wednesday, with more than 500,000 dead, several million displaced and a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. The country was also badly hit by the deadly February 6 earthquake, which also hit neighboring Turkey.

“If we don’t get additional money, we will have to cut aid (aid) to 3.8 million people out of a total of eight million people by July,” Corinne Fleischer, regional program director, told reporters. World Food Organization (WFP) Dubai.

Needs have reached a record since 2011, with 12.9 million people affected by food insecurity, Ms Fleischer underlines, specifying that WFP needs $700 million by the end of 2023.

For its part, UNICEF warned on Wednesday that millions of children were at increased risk of malnutrition after 12 years of conflict and the recent earthquake.

The organization said the 5.4 million people (about half of whom are children) affected by the February 6 earthquake needed $172.7 million in immediate life-saving assistance.

In a joint statement, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi, and the UN Resident Coordinator in Syria, El-Mustafa Benlamlih, however, said that humanitarian aid alone was “neither sufficient nor sustainable”. was, stressing the need for a “permanent and comprehensive solution to end the conflict”.

“All stakeholders must show their determination to advance the pursuit of lasting peace,” he says.

– “Freedom and Dignity” –

Meanwhile, President Assad is making an official visit to Moscow, which has provided decisive military aid to the Syrian army in the war, while in Idlib (northwest), the last enclave, despite deadly attacks backed by Russia, protests against his rule doing. People demonstrated carrying flags and banners of the Syrian opposition.

Syrians demonstrate in Idlib, Syria, March 15, 2023, to mark the 12th anniversary of the first protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

“The people demand the fall of the regime” or “Freedom and dignity for all Syrians”, could be read on two banners on the front of a building in the city’s main square.

Areas outside Damascus’ control in northern Syria currently have more than four million residents, at least half of whom are displaced.

“We have come to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution, a great date that every independent Syrian holds in his heart,” Abu Chahid, a 27-year-old protester, told AFP. To break the barrier of fear and protest against the criminal regime”.

An AFP photographer said demonstrations also took place on Wednesday in the Kurdish-held town of Tabqa in north-central Raqqa province.

Kurds, hostile to Turkey, fear paying a price for a possible rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, at a time when the Kremlin is stepping up its efforts to reconcile Turkey and Syria, which have been at odds since 2011. is in

The devastating earthquake of February 6 sparked intense “earthquake diplomacy” that allowed President Assad to come somewhat out of his isolation, as several Arab countries resumed contact with him to send aid to his country.

But “even if all countries in the world normalize[their relations]with the regime, the revolution will continue,” Salma Seif, 38, a protester in Idlib, displaced from Damascus, promises AFP.

“I am against any agreement with a criminal regime,” said 24-year-old Ali Hajj Sleiman, who was seriously wounded a few meters from the airstrike by the regime.

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