This week, Britain joined the coalition of countries dropping bombs on Syria in an effort to disrupt the Islamic State's operations, though some experts think airstrikes alone won't have much of an effect. Meanwhile, many Syrians feel their voices are often ignored as global powers play out an extended proxy war on their country.
The Turkish town of Antakya has become an ad-hoc refuge for Syrians fleeing the escalating conflict in their country. Thousands of people escaping airstrikes near the Turkey/Syria border live in dilapidated buildings scattered around the city without food, heating, or water. I asked five young Syrians there—some of whom risked their lives crossing the border between the two countries—how they felt about foreign involvement in a war that has killed over 300,000 Syrians and displaced millions. Many didn't want to give me their full names or have their faces in pictures as they cross the border regularly and fear for their families.
Ayham from Damascus
If you are a pilot and you are carrying out an airstrikes you don't know who you are killing, you don't know who is underneath you. Can they be certain there are no women, children, or normal people under them? Some terrorists will die but thousands of women and children will be killed. They are being killed. I don't want to see any more killing. I don't want to see blood. I don't want people to die because of airstrikes or weapons of bombs. Death is everywhere in Syria. I just want this war to end.
If I give you a flower what are you going to do with it? If I give you a weapon what will you do with it? Weapons are designed to kill, airstrikes are not designed to make peace they are designed to kill. They need to focus on stopping this war, without using more weapons. The international community needs to stop supporting one group over another this will not stop the war.
If there's killing in Europe or the US the whole world will shine a spotlight on it. In Syria, we have been suffering for five years but no one is shines a spotlight on all those people who died. No one is asking us our opinions and feelings, no one says, "Why are these people being killed?" "How many people have been killed?" or, "How can we stop this war?"
In one night they used a chemical weapon inside Syria and on that night 1,800 people were killed at the same time. That was very close to my home in Damascus. The social media community focused on it for half a day and that was it. People need to hear the voices of Syrians.
Aram from Damascus
I suppose in a way, I support the British army and the French army mainly because of the way Europe has helped refugees, including my family, but airstrikes are useless if we don't have troops on the ground.
I don't trust the Russian government—they're supporting the regime and we know Assad must go. He has committed so many crimes against his own people and the suffering of Syria is a direct result of his power. Hundreds of thousands of people in my country are dead. People who do not support terrorism are being killed by airstrikes everyday. All these countries have another agenda in Syria.
This week ISIS took over two villages in north Aleppo because of Russia airstrikes. So two places that were not under ISIS control are now in the Islamic State. How is this fighting terrorism? I want Europe to help us but they need to put in ground troops, otherwise it's not going to work.
Amer from Damascus
Everyone is bombing us to suit their own interests, This is a new cold war between global superpowers with Syria as the playing field. Airstrikes are not going to destroy terrorism. We need ground troops to finish the war.
Airstrikes can act as a support, but you have to pull terrorism out from its roots, so we need to stop the people funding it. I think the world should support Syrian moderates exclusively by providing them with money and weapons. I don't trust foreign powers inside Syria and I think the strategic location of Syria in the Mediterranean created this war. Everyone wants to export gas through Syria and Russia wants to prevent that in order to preserve its own interests. We all know about what happened in Afghanistan and how foreign interests supported extremists there.
Syrian moderates are the only people I trust. I wish British airstrikes could distinguish between innocent people and terrorists but unfortunately they can't and killing innocent people is not going to lead to peace in my country—it's going to make it worse. I think the British government should focus its attention on the people who give money to terrorists, I think they know who they are and this is something they can do that would make a big difference.
Mustafa from Homs
Over 75 percent of my city is destroyed. My home was destroyed by a bomb. I saw pictures on social media and my home is now gone. Imagine your home, all your memories, your childhood wiped out by bombs. Syria now is just numbers, numbers of deaths, numbers of weapons and numbers of bombers, we just keep counting. Now we're at hundreds of thousands but they are people, these are lives. The whole situation is so complicated and no one with a sane mind can predict what's going to happen or what are the right moves to make. We are Syrians and we don't know what's going on. If Syrians themselves don't know, how can others?
Our lives are just pawns in a chess game. We are good people, we don't want more bombs and more weapons in our country, we don't want to join the army. Right now if I say to someone, "My home was destroyed" they'll reply, "OK it's the same for me." This is no life for us.
Mohammed from Idlib
England has now entered the war with airstrikes but this won't help to end the war. I think it will make things worse. More people will die and I think there's going to be even more migration from moderate Syrians to Europe and Turkey.
Six months ago I was with my brother and we saw a black point in the sky, suddenly it became bigger and bigger it was coming for us so we ran into our home and hid underground. It was a barrel bomb. Most of the families in Idlib and nearby villages have moved out, they are sleeping in tents because they are frightened of bombs.
We don't know who is bombing us, usually when we see a group of planes we think it's Russian because the others fly alone, but we don't know. These airstrikes will not help to stop terrorism in Syria, the armed groups have places where they can hide underground. Innocent people will be killed.
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Norma Costello is with GOAL, a Dublin-based international aid agency, which is delivering aid to over 1 million people inside Syria.