The Assad regime, reacting to public outrage over its torture and murder of children in Deraa four years ago, unleashed a campaign of extreme violence against peaceful opponents. Extremist groups, backed by funding from within Gulf countries, took advantage of the regime’s war on its own citizens to launch their own campaigns of terror and now large parts of the country are under the control of fundamentalist terror groups. These include the so-called Islamic State, which received financing from within Gulf States and now sustains its activities through slave-trafficking, extortion, smuggling and illicit trade in oil, including supplying oil to the Assad regime itself.
The people of Syria are being subjected to indiscriminate violence from both the regime and jihadist groups, including the use of chemical weapons and the notorious “barrel bombs” dropped from army helicopters on civilian areas.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “The world must stand with the people of Syria, and support moderates including the incredibly brave ‘white helmets’ who risk their lives daily to save the lives of others. The major world powers, and especially the UN Security Council members, need to work together for peace and avoid the risk of a deeper and wider conflict with even worse consequences for Syrians and the wider region. We call on all nations to make refugees welcome, provide social protection and afford them the right to work”.
The ITUC has denied false reports from Syria’s state press agency that it was in any way involved in a recent conference in Damascus, sponsored by Syrian ruler Bashir al-Assad. “The ITUC stands for the fundamental principles of peace, freedom and human rights. It seems that the Syrian regime, by accident or design, has confused the ITUC with the World Federation of Trade Unions which took part in that conference, true to its record of siding with dictators and oppressive regimes instead of standing up for the shared values and commitment to democratic rights and freedoms that inspire trade unions worldwide,” said Burrow.