The Syrian police stormed her house and dragged her husband away. Her eldest son died in a rain of Syrian government shells on her hometown. So like millions of other Syrians, Hanadi Hafisi fled the country with plans to return when the war ended.
A decade later, she’s still a refugee in Turkey, where her work at a center that treats war injuries exposes her to a constant display of the human destruction wrought by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Russian backers: paralysis, missing hands and legs, and deep trauma that leaves her patients asking why such disasters consumed their lives.
“I don’t know what to tell them when they ask me whether they will reach justice,” said Ms. Hafisi, 46. “Seriously, what to tell them? That Bashar will be held accountable? That he will face trial? Of course not.”
As the world takes in the grim realities of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — the once-vibrant neighborhoods bombed out, the civilians killed by shells while trying to flee, the speculation about whether Russia will use chemical weapons — many Syrians have watched with a horrifying sense of déjà vu and a deep foreboding about what lies ahead.
The Syrian war began 11 years ago this month with an anti-Assad uprising that spiraled into a multisided conflict among the government, armed rebels, jihadists and others. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions have fled their homes, and Mr. al-Assad has remained in power, in large part because of the extensive support he received from the man now driving the invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. [Continue reading…]