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The Boston Globe

Opinion

NICHOLAS BURNS

Syria is melting away

Obama has no good options, but doing nothing can’t be the answer

Syria’s civil war is exacting an appalling toll on millions of suffering civilians. The carnage is so brutal that the United States and others must act quickly to prevent the country from descending into even further chaos. That was my major takeaway from an Aspen Institute meeting in Morocco last week with 25 former foreign ministers from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The death and destruction in Syria is numbing. More than 80,000 people have been killed. More than 1 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries, and more than 2 million have lost their homes and are internally displaced. The UN believes the refugee numbers could double or even triple in the next year. The health care system is breaking down with many hospitals destroyed or not functioning. The historic cities of Aleppo and Damascus are besieged. Lahkdar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat and UN envoy to the conflict, told us in Morocco that “Syria is melting away.’’

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