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Open letter to President Obama in Washington Post: Russian bombing of Syria is causing death and destruction, fueling extremism


Russian bombing of Syria is causing death and destruction, fueling extremism

The Hague, 1 February 2016 – The campaign group Naame Shaam (1) has called on the US President Barack Obama to pressure Russia to stop bombing Syria. The call was published yesterday as an open letter in the Washington Post newspaper.

The headline reads: “The Russian bombing of Syria must end, Mr. President”.

The open letter continues: “Russian war planes have been mainly bombing civilians and rebels supported by the US and its allies in Syria. All types of weapons have been used in this bombardment campaign, from cluster, vacuum and phosphorus bombs, to long-range cruise missiles and ‘dumb bombs’. Hundreds of civilians and moderate rebels have been killed and injured, and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.”

“Russia’s military intervention in Syria is aimed mainly at preventing the defeat of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who control and direct the Syrian regime troops and militias on the ground. Tens of thousands of Iran’s foot soldiers – the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghan Shia militias, as well as Syrians Alawi militiamen – have been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity under the cover of Russian planes.”

“Syrians are asking: Under what right are Russia and Iran bombing Syria and starving besieged towns and cities to death? Under what right is the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and his supporters allowed to commit mass murder?”

“Syrians also want to know why the US and its allies are not stopping this carnage, and why the US and the EU are not imposing new sanctions against Russia and Iran for these war crimes.”

“Most Syrians today believe that Western democratic values have been sacrificed in Syria for the sake of reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran and future business deals. The West’s inaction to stop the war in Syria is seen as complacency, and even complicity.”

“Mr. President, Russia is capitalizing on the West’s failure to act. The result is more radicalization and extremism, more terror, more refugees and a disintegrating Middle East. This cannot be in the interest of the US and its allies.”

The letter then asks President Obama to:

  • “Treat the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by Iran and Russia on the one hand, and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this occupation on the other.
  • Support referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.
  • Pressure at the Vienna talks Russia with more economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation so that it disengages from Iran and becomes part of the solution in Syria.
  • Fulfill your promises by arming and training enough moderate Syrian rebels, not only to fight Daesh (so-called Islamic State) and al-Qaeda-linked groups, but also Syrian and Iranian regime forces and militias.
  • Impose no-fly zones to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access throughout Syria, in line with the international ‘responsibility to protect’ norm.
  • Help Syrians set up a democratic state where the rule of law prevails, and where there is no place for al-Assad and his supporters.”

Naame Shaam believes that only the US can prevent further disintegration and chaos in Syria and the Middle East.

The open letter was accompanied by a photomontage of a Syrian bank note, which Naame Shaam had produced to visualize the Iranian occupation of Syria. The bank note carries the counterfeit of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the de facto ruler of regime-held areas in Syria.(2)

This open letter was the seventh Naame Shaam letter to the US President published in the Washington Post. The previous six letters were published in the same newspaper in 2015.(3)

Notes for editors:

1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Naame Shaam (نامه شام) means “Letter from Syria” in Persian. For more details about the group and its activities, see
Naame Shaam is part of the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation,

Naame Shaam has published three in-depth reports on the Iranian regime’s role in Syria:

2. See here.

3. The previous six open letters from Naame Shaam to President Obama, all published in the Washington Post:

  1. 5 May 2015: “Iran is already occupying Syria, Mr. President”
  2. 19 May 2015: “A silent sectarian cleansing is taking place in Syria, Mr. President”
  3. 23 June 2015: “The policy of slowly bleeding Iran and Hezbollah in Syria isn’t working, Mr. President”
  4. 30 June 2015: “Iran’s nuclear plans are intrinsically linked to its destabilizing policies in the region, Mr. President”
  5. 7 December 2015: “Iran will continue funding terror, Mr. President”
  6. 14 December 2016: “Endless sorrow and despair in Syria, Mr. President. Endless”


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