Hundreds have died in recent weeks as Russia and Syria have unleashed a horrific wave of bombing on rebel held areas of Aleppo.

They have repeatedly targeted hospitals, with the M2 hospital bombed twice in one day. Mohammad Abu Rajab, a doctor at the hospital, said, “These bombings are systematic and direct against hospitals that are serving besieged Aleppo”.

This violence has had tragic humanitarian consequences for the 250,000 civilians living under siege.

Western powers have been quick to denounce the horrific violence as war crimes. But the West is in no position to lecture Assad and Russia.

At the same time as Russian jets are pounding Aleppo, Western powers are providing arms for a vicious blockade and assault on rebel held territory in Yemen by a Saudi Arabian led coalition.

This assault is every bit as vicious as the assault on Aleppo. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accused the Saudis of targeting “hospitals, schools, mosques and civilian infrastructure”.

The Western powers too have been involved in their own brutal assaults on Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq and are currently preparing an assault on Mosul, still home to an estimated 700,000 civilians.

The most likely outcome in Aleppo will be victory for the Syrian government forces, backed by Russian bombs. Similarly in Mosul, Iraqi government forces, backed by Western bombs, will most likely overrun Islamic State.

But in both cases this will do nothing to reduce terrorism. It will only fuel the sectarian divisions which the Sunni jihadist groups feed on.

While the big powers bomb from above, in both Syria and Iraq, it is Iran that is the backbone of the ground assaults. They’ve mobilised thousands of Shia militants from across the region and incorporated them into government structures along similar lines to the infamous Basij in Iran.

The Shia militias are the mirror-image of the Sunni jihadists. Human Rights Watch has already documented many abuses by “out of control militias” in towns recaptured from Islamic State.

Backing Shia jihadist over Sunni jihadist, whether in Syria or Iraq, is just a recipe for more retaliatory violence. Outside intervention into the region, whether from Russia or the West, or local powers Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, is not part of the solution but part of the problem.

Socialists in Australia have to oppose all outside intervention but particularly Australian intervention. Just like their invasion of Iraq, more Western intervention will only add more fuel to the fire.

By Mark Gillespie

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