Hostilities Expanding in Syria

Hostilities Expanding in Syria

Syria’s foreign minister condemned an Israeli rocket attack that targeted Damascus, damaged some military facilities, and seriously injured two people.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said it was the fifth Israeli strike on Syria this month. Israeli authorities declined to comment. An opposition source with contacts on the ground said the strikes hit a car carrying pro-Iran personnel near a Syrian security building near Kafr Sousa. The rockets hit an installation where Iranian officials were meeting to advance programs to develop drone or missile capabilities of Tehran’s armed allies in the war-torn country.

“I was going to die of fright,” one witness said. She was spending the night with her infant son in a hospital in the Damascus district of Mazzeh. “The sound made me feel like the whole hospital was going to collapse on us,” she added.

The War in Syria

Overall, the Syrian Civil War is winding down. But the fire keeps smoldering, and as long as that’s the case, large-scale fighting could easily flare up again in the long-term conflict.

When Bashar Assad succeeded his father as Syrian leader in 2000, many pundits hoped or expected Syria to open up. Assad’s wife, Asma, was a British-born and bred Sunni Muslim. The Assads promised to enact many economic and political reforms. Instead, Assad did the opposite, cracking down on opposition groups and crushing the so-called Damascus Spring almost immediately after he took the reins of power.

So, it was more of the same in Syria. Upper-class individuals with close ties to Assad’s Baath socialist party did very well for themselves. Everyone else struggled with limited political freedoms, slow economic growth, and high unemployment. Even the most brutal government can only suppress disaffected people for so long.

That is especially true since a severe drought affected most of the country between 2006 and 2011. The drought further strained the country’s food supply, which was already under stress because of the influx of refugees from neighboring Iraq.

Ten years after he took power, another political spring, the Arab Spring, toppled many longtime dictators in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. This unrest threatened Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. He managed to hold onto power, but the protests did lead to a civil war.

In the powder keg that is the Middle East, the local conflict quickly escalated into a regional conflict. A number of foreign countries, such as Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the United States, have either directly involved themselves in the conflict or provided support to one or another faction. Many international insurgency groups, mostly ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, have fought for a piece of Syria as well.

Between 2014 and 2016, Russia and the United States almost came to blows with one another. Conflicts between the superpowers continued until 2017 when they finally started dying down.

During the war, the United States supported Syrian rebel groups, and the Russians supported their traditional ally, Assad. Contractors played a major role in that conflict. Contractors will also play a major role in the next series of events that happens in this war-torn country.

Rebuilding in Syria

After over a decade of war, most of Syria is in shambles. Many towns have changed hands multiple times. Each battle is usually more intense than the previous one. But there can be no victory for anyone until Syria is rebuilt. Life under Assad is far from ideal, but life with Assad when your neighborhood is basically in one piece is a little more bearable. 

Furthermore, rebuilding has political implications. When American private military contractors participate in rebuilding, it gives the United States one last chance to make a lingering impression on the Syrian people. Furthermore, it gives the United States some influence on Syrian policy. There’s no way Assad will leave the Russian orbit and become a U.S. ally. But he might be persuaded to be a little more independent-minded, especially since his wife is British.

Rebuilding efforts usually focus on extremely large projects, like regional hospitals and major highways. Most refugees will not return to their homes until such infrastructure is in place and they have something to come back to.

Generally, contractors supervise construction activity. Local men and women usually swing the hammers. This arrangement invests the local community in the project, making militant attacks and sabotage less likely.

Speaking of militant attacks, armed contractors often protect workers and supervisors. Once again, this protection leaves a lasting, positive impression on the Syrian people. So, when the government launches propaganda campaigns against the capitalist imperialists, this propaganda does not resonate as well with people.

Many of these people are future decision-makers in Syria, at least at a lower level. The seeds of trust sown now could bear significant fruit later.

Injury Compensation Available

Construction sites are dangerous in America. They’re even more dangerous in Syria, where workplace safety laws are pretty much nonexistent. Serious injuries are common at construction sites, such as:

  • Falls: A fall from as little as four stories above ground is normally fatal. Basic safety equipment, like rails and harnesses, can all but eliminate these injuries. But such precautions are few and far between in places like Syria. Making matters worse, the nearest hospital usually is not very close because of the aforementioned infrastructure issues.
  • Electrocutions: Live wires often cause falls. An arc blast propels victims through the air, and there’s no telling where they will land. Alternatively, electrocutions often cause serious burns. The surge of electricity triggers involuntary muscle contractions, so the victim has extended contact with heat that’s often hotter than the sun’s surface temperature.
  • Caught Between: As mentioned, Syria has few workplace safety laws. Therefore, almost anyone can get behind the wheel of a dump truck or other huge construction vehicle. Inexperienced drivers often don’t see workers walking behind them. So, these workers are “caught between” a vehicle and a retaining wall or other fixed object.
  • Struck By: Falling bodies cause serious injuries, and so do falling tools. There is an old saying that a hammer is like a gun. You should never take it out unless you plan to use it. If a worker accidentally drops a hammer, it picks up so much force as it falls that it could easily seriously injure anyone unlucky enough to be underneath it.

Occupational diseases, such as repetitive stress disorders, are common as well. There is only so much kneeling, stooping, and bending that human joints can take. Usually, by the time these injured workers see doctors, their injuries are advanced and almost untreatable.

The Defense Base Act pays all reasonably necessary medical bills in these situations, so contractors can do their work without fear of an expensive injury.

For more information about DBA eligibility, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.