Syrian generals warned they face justice for killings
THE United States named a dozen Syrian generals and officers accused of leading attacks on civilian targets and running torture prisons, warning they will one day face justice.
US ambassador Samantha Power read out the names at a tense Security Council meeting on Syria, where government forces backed by Russia pressed on with an offensive as the humanitarian crisis reached alarming levels.
Nearly 1 million people are now living under siege, UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said, a dramatic increase from 486,700 Syrians cut off by besiegement six months ago.
Ms Power said many of the military commanders were involved in killing civilians with assaults on schools, hospitals and homes since the outbreak of the war in 2011.
The ambassador listed a number of facilities where cases of torture have been documented and warned officers and prison officials that the world was watching them.
Among those named were five major generals – Adib Salameh, Jawdat Salbi Mawas, Tahir Hamid Khalil, Jamil Hassan and Rafiq Shihadeh – along with five brigadier generals and two colonels.
“The United States will not let those who have commanded units involved in these actions hide anonymously behind the facade of the Assad regime,” she said.
The council met as Syrian and Russian warplanes pounded rebel-held parts of northern Syria while food rations were running out in east Aleppo, which has been under siege since July.
Western powers have turned up the pressure on Russia over its Syria campaign after diplomatic efforts to agree on a ceasefire collapsed two months ago.
Russia in turn blames the United States for failing to convince its allies on the ground to distance themselves from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which has since renamed itself Fatah al-Sham.
Russian deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov accused Ms Power of “trying to bring the whole world into a tribunal”.
Russia maintains that its military campaign is aimed at rooting out militants from al-Nusra and the Islamic State, which controls northeast Syria.
The US, French and British ambassadors walked out of the council chamber in protest as Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari took the floor.
Mr Jaafari once again argued that Syria is fighting a “terrorist statelet” operating on its territory. –