US Secretary of State John Kerry seeks war crimes investigation against Russia, Syria

October 8, 2016 7:34 pm

Secretary of State speaks to reporters at the State Department in Washington on October 7, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused and the Syrian government of “terrorizing civilians,” saying they must be investigated for “war crimes”.
Speaking at the State Department on Friday, Kerry accused Moscow and Damascus of “hitting hospitals, and medical facilities, and children and women,” in the northwestern city of Aleppo, saying they “owe the world more than an explanation.”
“These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes, and those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions,” Kerry alleged.
The top US diplomat, however, did not formally request an investigation into what he described as “war crimes.”
Kerry further claimed that the Syrian forces hit “another hospital” in Aleppo overnight. There was no official statement about his assertion, however.
Moscow and Damascus say their forces have been targeting foreign-sponsored militants in eastern parts of Aleppo after the terrorists repeatedly violated the cessation of hostilities. The city has been divided since 2012 between government forces in the west and foreign-sponsored militants in the east. 
An estimated six to eight thousand militants are fighting in the eastern parts of the city, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referring to a United Nations figure.
Lavrov said about half of the militants belong to the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front. He has formerly accused Washington of protecting the Takfiri group.
Responding to the allegations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described Kerry’s statements “unacceptable judgments,” on Friday. He reiterated Washington’s failure in complying with a US-Russia negotiated ceasefire, which was reached on September 9, and did only last for seven days.
Damascus refused to extend it after US-led air raids killed 83 of its army forces and wounded some 100 others at a military base in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr in violation of the truce.

Syrian forces advance on a road through the town of Khanasser, Aleppo, after they recaptured it from Daesh, on February 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharov, also, described Kerry’s allegations as “propaganda,” saying that “juggling these words [war crime] is very dangerous, because there are indeed war crimes on the part of the American representatives.”
“If it comes to war crimes, US representatives should start with Iraq. And then move to Libya, and of course to Yemen – find out what’s there,” she said, adding that Kerry had used the terminology “with a view to escalating the situation.”
While Washington claims its forces are fighting terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIL) , it openly fund and equip militant groups, who are waging war against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Last week, one of the al-Nusra Front commanders told the German-language daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the US is among several countries that actively support the group.
Moscow and Washington now have a variety of disagreements over Syria, which has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. After several rounds of failed talks over the Syrian crisis, the US warned last week that it might stop co-operating with Moscow.
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