Kerry calls for Russia, Syria war crimes investigation

by WorldTribune Staff, October 9, 2016

The bombing of hospitals and killing of civilians by Russia and the Syrian regime in Aleppo “beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“Russia, and the regime, owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children,” he said.

A man carries an injured child out of the rubble after an airstrike on a hospital in eastern Aleppo. /Getty Images
A man carries an injured child out of the rubble after an airstrike on a hospital in eastern Aleppo. /Getty Images

Moscow insists it has not attacked civilians, and said it and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces are attacking Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front. Western powers dispute this, pointing to the high proportion of civilians being killed.

Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, said medical facilities in east Aleppo were being destroyed “one-by-one.”

Kerry said Russian and Syrian government attacks on hospitals were “beyond the accidental” and part of a deliberate strategy.

“This is a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians and to kill anybody and everybody who is in the way of their military objectives,” he said.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy for the Syrian crisis, said only about 900 of the estimated 8,000 fighters in eastern Aleppo are members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Eastern Aleppo, which is held by rebel forces, has been subjected to a constant campaign of airstrikes by Syria and Russia in recent weeks. About 275,000 people still live in the eastern part of the city.

De Mistura appealed for fighters from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham to be able to leave Aleppo with their weapons.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said on Oct. 9 that Russia has the means to protect its assets in Syria if the United States decided to carpet bomb the Assad regime’s military air fields.

Lavrov said he had heard that this was one option being advocated by some policymakers in Washington.

“This is a very dangerous game given that Russia, being in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of this country and having two bases there, has got air defense systems there to protect its assets,” Lavrov told Russian state TV’s First Channel.

Lavrov added that he was convinced U.S. President Barack Obama would not agree to such a scenario.