Syria is not our enemy: why are we at war?

Dec 2, 2023
Atmeh, Syria – June 17, 2013: Atmeh Refugee Camp, Idlib, Syria. June 17th 2013. UNHCR tent for a Syrian refugee family Atmeh refugee camp, Idlib province Syria

On 21 August 2013 there was an alleged sarin gas attack in Syria, in which hundreds of people, including scores of children, were killed. This is what led the US and its allies to threaten military strikes against Syria.

Since August 2013, western governments, mainstream media outlets, and NGOs have routinely blamed the Syrian government for the alleged chemical weapons attack, yet veteran journalists and key US intelligence and military figures have cast doubt on that ‘truth’.

Information recently revealed suggests that the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group, assisted by foreign intelligence agencies, was responsible for the alleged sarin gas attack, that it was a false flag operation.

If so, such an operation required gruesome scenes that would provoke our outrage. That outrage could then feed calls for western military action against Syria.

But Syria is not our enemy; the people of Syria are not our enemies. Yet, we have been involved in a war on Syria.

More recently, Syrians have become impoverished because of the West’s suffocating sanctions and America’s occupation of Syria’s resource-rich territory.

To our shame, the West has displayed great arrogance towards Syria, a secular, Muslim-majority country.

The perpetrators of crimes against humanity on Australian shores have mostly been Anglo-Christians, reminding us that no race, faith or people is inherently ‘good’ or superior.

For a commitment to diplomacy, truth-telling and reconciliation that is capable of uniting Australians and restoring trust in our institutions, we firstly call on the Parliament of Australia; the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and the Department of Defence to commit to an open, thorough investigation into the alleged sarin gas attack on 21 August 2013. We also call on the Parliament of Australia to commit to an investigation into the reasons for sanctions on Syria and to determine if the US-led sanctions are crimes against the human rights of the people of Syria.

Investigating our role and that of our allies in the war in Syria can serve as a test for us.

We can never adequately recompense the people of Syria for any role Australia has played in their suffering. However, the humility, empathy and courage required to rigorously probe our role in the Syrian war are qualities we must call upon if we are to ever heal divisions in our society.

It is essential that we heal divisions and build trust in our institutions to guarantee a sustainable and fair future for younger generations everywhere.


If you would like to add your signature to a letter to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to this effect, please contact Susan Dirgham at


For more on this topic, P&I recommends:

Malcolm Fraser joins religious leaders in urging restraint in Syria, by Barney Zwartz, The Age, September 10, 2013

Seeking the truth about the alleged sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Damascus, 21 August 2013, by Susan Dirgham, ArttS at Beloved Syria, 27 Nov 2023

UN expert calls for lifting of long-lasting unilateral sanctions ‘suffocating’ Syrian people, UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission, 10 Nov 2022

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