Labour must not remain silent over Idlib

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By Mark Boothroyd, Camberwell and Peckham CLP and Syria Solidarity activist

As delegates prepare for Labour Party Conference, the Assad regime war machine and its Russian backers are preparing a military assault on the last rebel enclave in Syria.

Idlib, a rural province in the north of Syria is home to over two million civilians, hundreds of thousands of them displaced from all over Syria by Assad’s war on the Syrian people.

They are being subject to daily shelling and aerial bombing by regime forces, and now face a ground assault from Assad’s sectarian death squads. And now there is no where for them to flee to, as Turkey has closed its border to Syrian refugees, and all other rebel areas have been reconquered by the regime.

That the regime and its backers are preparing a massacre is obvious to see; Assad has pledged to retake the entire country, and has been doing just that, conquering Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, then Daraa. Pro-regime media has been full of stories of how Idlib is run by “terrorists” and “al-Qaeda” linked armed groups. This narrative has even been repeated UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura who has said there are “10,000 terrorists” in Idlib who “must be defeated”. This narrative is a grim echo of Israel’s propaganda about Gaza, where the presence of Islamic militants and “terrorists” is used as a pretext to attack civilians and ethnically cleanse them.

Corbyn has claimed to want peace in Syria, but has remained largely silent over Assad’s war and its human cost. 750,000 Syrian civilians were driven from their homes by the regime’s attack on Daraa. Twice as many could be displaced or made refugees by an assault on Idlib. The Labour leadership must speak out against the coming assault on Idlib, and demand serious action to protect Idlib from the murderous Assad regime.

If Idlib falls, the killing will not end there. Assad will turn his attention to the Kurdish areas of Syria and the Rojava project, crush the autonomy they have won, and the bloody massacres and ethnic cleansing will continue.

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