Many Syrians empathise with Ukrainians given their experience of surviving Russian shelling and air raids during war in their country.
Binnish, Syria – As the crisis escalates in Ukraine following Russian attacks on the country, many people in Syria – still living through war in their own country – are voicing solidarity with Ukrainians.
In the city of Binnish in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, graffiti artist Aziz Al-Asmar painted a mural on a home that was destroyed in a Russian air raid to stand with the Ukrainian people after Moscow’s attack on Thursday.
“The Syrian regime and its Russian allies turned our houses into ruins for the past 11 years, causing many people to be displaced from their homes and villages,” Al-Asmar told Al Jazeera.
“What is happening now in Ukraine is the continuation of Russia’s policy, and it won’t stop if the [UN] Security Council and the international community do not unite and put an end to it.”
He said he fears more innocent people will be killed.
Dozens of people died during the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said on Thursday.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered attacks on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting multiple cities and bases with air raids or shelling, and attacking by land and sea.
Putin’s government has been a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the war in Syria, which began in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Russia joined the war in Syria in 2015 and its military support helped strengthen the position of Syrian government forces, turning the conflict in al-Assad’s favour.
Moscow’s political support for Syria has been a point of contention in its relationship with the West, which has imposed sanctions on Russia for supporting al-Assad.
Fiaz Al-Daghim said he empathises with the people of Ukraine, given that he as a Syrian has also been under Russian shelling and air raids.
“I as a Syrian have suffered from the bitterness and criminality of Russian aggression, so I was very distressed by the scene of Ukrainians fleeing their homes,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I remembered when the bombing of Russian warplanes forced us to flee from our towns and cities in Idlib towards the Turkish border. It was a similar scene.
“Who gave Putin the right to kill people and drive them away from their land? Is there no one in this world who will stop Russia’s crimes and put an end to them?”
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Syria’s nearly 11-year war with tens of millions displaced.