Recent events in Syria have prompted screaming headlines about chemical-weapons attacks, a looming U.S.-Russia confrontation, and the risks of an even bigger, regional war. But the underlying reality of the war—lives being lost, day after day—is so constant nearly seven years in as to effectively cease being “news.” One powerful reflection of this, in contrast to the many thousands of words spent analyzing Syria’s complex battlefield, was a kind of moment of silence, in statement form. UNICEF, the UN children’s organization, distributed a mostly blank page following reports that dozens had been killed in a bombardment of a Damascus suburb, noting that it was running out of words to describe the daily terror endured by ordinary Syrians:
#RunningOutOfWords— UNICEF MENA (@UNICEFmena) February 20, 2018
Statement from @gcappelaere on the war on children in #Syria
Reports of mass casualties among children in Eastern #Ghouta and Damascus#ChildrenUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/X2FYJ4OPnf
Accurate estimates of the death toll from these latest attacks are hard to come by, but many accounts suggest that as many as 100 civilians, including children, have been killed in the past 48 hours in the region of eastern Ghouta, in suburbs outside the country’s capital. The Assad regime’s forces have carried out a near-incessant bombardment of the region over the past 48 hours.
NBC News described it this way: “Death has a soundtrack in Eastern Ghouta: The growing rumble of a jet ripping through the sky, punctuated by a low but loud thud. Then come screams and sirens.” A woman who who was with her two children in one of the towns hit told Al Jazeera: “Warplanes have not stopped soaring over the city. When the shelling temporarily stops, they start firing missiles at us.”