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Syrians are quoting Robin Williams in a plea for US intervention

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Every Friday, the people of Kafranbel, Syria release photos of a handmade sign designed to draw global attention to the truly awful bloodshed in Syria. This Friday, they've released an understated but powerful message — simply a quote of the late actor Robin Williams' famous line about freedom from Aladdin:

kafranbel robin williams sign

Kafranbel Media Center

Kafranbel is a town in northwestern Syria, and a bastion of support for anti-Assad rebels (they also hate the Islamic State, aka ISIS). For years, its residents have released these heartbreaking messages to try to make the world do something about the war. Not without risk: Raed Fares, one of the leaders of the media effort, was shot on his way home from the Kafranbel Media Center, the nerve center of the effort, in January. Fares survived, albeit barely, and the signs have kept coming:

kafranbel tyrants

Kafranbel Media Center

Perhaps the most depressing theme of the Kafranbel protests is their plea that President Obama and the United States intervene in the conflict, a plea that the US has largely resisted for years. It's so depressing because there's very little Obama can do to stop the war in Syria — or in most other places in the Middle East:

kafranbel Obama

That's Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei playing catcher, and Syrian dictator Assad as the ball. Kafranbel Media Center

The Kafranbel criticism of Obama is often pretty biting — like this dig at Obama's recent description of the Syrian rebels as "farmers, dentists, and folks who have never fought before:"

Kafranbel dentists students farmers

Kafranbel Media Center

Or this unflattering comparison to Bush:

Kafranbel Bush

Kafranbel Media Center

Despite this extraordinarily brave media effort, Obama has not been able help the people of Kafranbel. Here's why.

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