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Bahrain activists may halt Syria aid plan

Manama, September 8, 2013

Bahraini campaigners could freeze plans to distribute food to Syrians amidst fears of potential military strikes on the war-torn country, a report said.

They launched a campaign last month to ensure Syrians have basic food, including bread, following the closure of main bakeries in several cities due to a shortage of flour, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

However, members of the Bahraini Association for the Support of the Syrian Revolution are reconsidering sending volunteers to Damascus as their lives could be put at risk with imminent western intervention.

Reports suggest the US and its allies are gearing up for military action if the Syrian regime is found to have carried out an alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 in Damascus.

US President Barack Obama earlier delayed the decision for a missile strike to consult Congress, while the British parliament vetoed any involvement.

However, he managed to rally 10 Group of Twenty (G20) nations to sign a statement to call for an international response during Friday's G20 summit in St Petersburg.

The call, however, fell short of supporting military intervention.

"We are rethinking our plan to enter Syria and physically deliver flour and help bakeries operating in different cities," said association spokesman Emad Al Jarrah.

"The members are planning to meet in the coming days to discuss the situation. We can go ahead and risk our lives or perhaps deliver the flour to the border and have it sent to different cities in Syria."

Ten volunteers recently returned from northern Jordan after delivering aid to Syrian refugees at Za'atari Camp, as part of the association's Syrian Iftar Campaign.

They are waiting for the association's decision to hit the road once again under the new campaign, titled Our Jihad is Bread.

"We are looking to have bakeries in different cities of Syria open back for business," said Al Jarrah.

"Following the escalating situation in the country, Syrians are struggling to get their daily bread. We wanted to do something which can help Syrians be independent and keep the cities alive, so we thought bread is the answer. It's a sign of survival and unity as well as a food source."

Association members, aged between 16 and 30, have already started collecting donations for the new initiative, despite the uncertainty of their plans.

They hope to travel to Syria's border through a neighbouring country, where they will buy flour and head into the battle-weary cities.

"We want to collect more than BD1,000 ($2,635) to help us support as many bakeries," added Al Jarrah.

"To help them operate, they might also need to get more employees and pay their salaries which the donations can help us do.

"We are looking to help between 10 and 20 bakeries depending on our abilities and access there."

If the campaign is given the green light, volunteers will leave Bahrain next month, said Al Jarrah. "We know the situation might be dangerous in Syria, but we want to help with what we can," he said.

"Hopefully, we can go to cities with less tension and try and help from there."

Opposition activists claim at least 500 people were killed in the poison gas attack, which is being investigated by UN inspectors.

President Obama, during the summit, also resisted pressure to abandon plans for air strikes, which was led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Iran has also warned against foreign military intervention against its allies in power in Syria - saying the resulting conflict would engulf the region.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad scorned allegations that his forces were behind the chemical attack in Damascus. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Volunteers | Military strike |

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