Syria is the world's most dangerous place to be a civilian. But there is another side to the conflict: those focused on caring for civilians in the conflict are also seeking to build peace. Volunteers are coming to the rescue with no regard for sect or creed. The U.S. Institute of Peace, The Syria Campaign and the Syrian American Medical Society cohosted on September 30 a public discussion, bringing together two of these courageous rescuers to discuss the future of peacebuilding in Syria.

 

Some 600 Syrians known as “White Helmets” or Syrian Civil Defense units, are organized volunteers who act as rescue workers in areas like Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the country’s northwest. They are unarmed and impartial, and operate on principles on “solidarity, humanity and impartiality,” as laid out in the Geneva Convention. In the six months prior to the panel discussion, they recorded more than 2,500 lives saved. They ran out after barrel bombs have dropped and dig through the rubble, often with their bare hands, in search of life.

The United States Institute of Peace, The Syria Campaign and the Syrian American Medical Society brought together two of these courageous rescuers to discuss the future of peacebuilding in Syria.

Speakers

  • Raed Salah
    Head of Syrian Civil Defense in Idlib Governorate
  • Khaled Harah
    Member of Syrian Civil Defense in Aleppo City
  • Dr. Samer Attar
    Syrian American Medical Society
  • Hind Kabawat, Moderator
    Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

What Can We Learn from Syria’s Devastating Decade of War?

What Can We Learn from Syria’s Devastating Decade of War?

Monday, March 15, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

As the Syrian conflict marks its 10th anniversary, the protest movement from which it emerged stands as perhaps the most consequential of the Arab uprisings. The March 2011 peaceful protests that erupted across Syria have since evolved into the world’s most complex conflict. Equally significant, the conflict’s trajectory provides important insights into the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead in Syria, with significant ramifications for the region and the broader international community.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

What is Russia’s Endgame in Syria?

What is Russia’s Endgame in Syria?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

Five years into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, understanding Moscow’s endgame could provide critical insights into the decade-long conflict’s trajectory, as well as Russia’s posture in the Middle East and beyond. Although still evolving and subject to internal debates, Moscow’s Syria strategy appears to be centered on a “spheres of influence” model. In this model, Syria is divided into distinct realms under the sway of competing external patrons.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

The Best Hope for Sustained De-escalation in Syria

The Best Hope for Sustained De-escalation in Syria

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian

As the conflict in Syria approaches its 10th anniversary, a holistic political settlement encompassing the entirety of the country is unlikely in the near to medium term. More than eight years of diplomatic initiatives have yielded only limited results. The two principal tracks—the Geneva and the Astana/Sochi processes—are running up against the complexity of the conflict and an emboldened Assad regime; neither process is sufficient on its own to generate momentum toward a lasting political settlement for the whole of Syria. However, creatively bridging these two processes could bring greater stability to those areas of Syria still beyond the Assad regime’s control, assuaging the suffering of some Syrians, and potentially serving as a building block for a longer-term settlement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications