"As a Syrian, I feel guilty about warning a child or teenager against a smuggler’s promise to take him to Europe. I know where their thoughts might head if that desperate option ceases to be a possibility. I then wonder how long sane people can resist as the situation deteriorates.
It is no better in the rest of Syria. Even though ISIL dominates the headlines, the Assad regime remains the top killer in the country by some margin. The daily suffering caused by the regime now rarely makes it to public discussions, but highlighting Mr Assad’s disproportionate violence has practical benefits. Apart from the humanitarian factor, failure to focus on the atrocities committed by both ISIL and the regime distorts the reality and creates a schism between how outsiders and Syrians conceive of a resolution to the conflict.
Nowhere is this clearer than when America’s train-and-equip programme reportedly failed to attract enough recruits because volunteers are asked to focus on ISIL. A year after Barack Obama announced the programme, no more than 200 Syrians joined it. Moreover, even those who have joined the programme will be treated as mercenaries by fellow rebels as long as the focus is ISIL not the regime. Even before the US officials publicly admitted the challenge, it was apparent.
As long as the suffering and sacrifices of people on the ground are overlooked, the world should not expect true partners in the conflict. The savagery of the Assad regime is no less than the barbarity of ISIL. On the contrary, it helps perpetuate it."