Head of White Helmets calls on the US to enforce Syrian ceasefire


On Wednesday 11 March, Head of the White Helmets Raed Al Saleh will address a full Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Assad’s Campaign Against the Syrian People, the first time Syrian civil society has given testimony on the war crimes being committed by Russia and the Syrian regime.


He will call on the United States to enforce a national ceasefire by all means necessary.


As frontline rescue workers, the White Helmets are witnesses to the systematic bombing campaign which targets water points, hospitals, White Helmets centers, food markets, schools and bakeries.


Saleh will tell the Senate: “Nearly everything that can help civilians survive has been destroyed and the vast majority of people are struggling to access basic shelter, food and medicine.”


Since they started their rescue work, 282 volunteers have been killed saving others and 860 injured — targeted because they save the lives of those the regime and Russia want dead and bear witness to the war crimes being committed almost daily.


He will say that while US humanitarian aid is welcome, money will not stop the bombs from killing civilians.


“The ambulances we purchase with your funding are being pursued by Russian drones, and deliberately bombed. Russia has destroyed millions of dollars worth of our US-funded equipment.


“It is the unimpeded aerial bombardment which is the primary cause of death, destruction, and displacement of civilians. The aerial bombardment is the primary cause of the refugee exodus to Europe which has empowered far right parties. The aerial bombardment and the West’s unwillingness to stop it is the primary recruitment tool for ISIS and Al-Qaeda,” he will say.


“Turkey’s intervention last month shattered the myth that the use of force to stop hostilities might cause further escalation — in fact the opposite happened. After Turkey’s brief military intervention last week, there was a complete stop in aerial attacks. But Turkey cannot do this alone. It needs your support.

“The enforcement of a national ceasefire — by all means necessary — will help create the conditions for real, internationally-backed peace talks, including accountability for all perpetrators of mass atrocities and war crimes.


“For I still believe in the values that the Syrian Revolution called for in March 2011, the values of democracy practiced in this building every single day, and which can be practiced in Syria too. With support of people around the world, we Syrians can rebuild our country into a free, peaceful, democratic Syria that operates beyond the evils of the regime and extremists.”