Mayor: al-Assad regime must go
By SASHA HARRINANAN Friday, July 20 2012
SYRIA’S bloody civil war will continue until president Bashar al-Assad’s regime is overthrown and democracy introduced to that Middle Eastern nation, Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph — of Syrian heritage — said yesterday.
He made the comment in response to the death of four senior Syrian officials including Defence Minister Dawood Rajiha in a suspected suicide bombing at a national security building two days ago in the capital, Damascus.
“I’m sorry for the deaths of these men and for the thousands of civilians who were also killed in recent times. But Syria is in a full-fledged civil war that in the opposition’s case, is being driven by people from cities and villages across the country.
“So the fighting and killing will continue until the regime has fallen and people are able to vote in free and fair elections,” Youseph stated.
Whether the explosion was set off remotely or the result of a suicide bomber gaining access to the inner sanctum of al-Assad’s national security council, Youseph said it was a strong indication that the Syrian government had failed in its duty to protect its citizens.
“If rebel fighters were able to infiltrate the national security building, how are they able to keep the country safe? This is yet another failure of the government which raises strong concerns about its ability to keep people safe.”
Youseph is the second oldest of eight siblings. Three of his brothers and two of his sisters still call Syria home but those who lived and worked in Homs were forced to flee to the relative safety of their village home when the fighting escalated earlier this year. Fortunately for them, they fled the province before the Houla massacre took place on May 25.
Very worried about his family’s safety, the Arima mayor journeyed to Syria last month to visit them. He told Newsday the feeling “on the ground” is one of hopelessness among ordinary people, with everyone, “living day-by-day...because today might be their last.”