US-led sanctions targeting Syria risk adjudication as War Crimes
As many of us would agree, the continuing conflict in Syria has created a devastating humanitarian crisis: the magnitude of humanitarian needs is overwhelming in all parts of the country and affects the region and beyond. The Syrian conflict has become the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, the estimated number of people in need of the protection of International Humanitarian Law is approximately 14 million, more than two-thirds of Syria's pre-war population. Of these, more than 6 million are hard to reach 16 besieged, areas, and over 7 million people are internally displaced. António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, recently described the humanitarian situation in Syria as "the great tragedy of this century". It continues to fuel a combustible environment, which has contributed to the refugee and migration crisis as well as to the rise of evermore anti-government rebels groups including extremists affiliated with, if not directly a part of, the so-called Islamic State (IS) and Fatah al-Sham.
Bombing Besieged Civilians: War Crimes
The Russian bombardment of Aleppo has continued unabated and reached an acme on 10/17/2016 with 14 members of one family reportedly killed in an airstrike on al-Marjeh area of Aleppo according to eyewitness accounts, including White Helmet rescue workers. A list of those killed included several infants, among them two six-week-old babies and six other children aged eight or under. Rescue workers, who like the local population have become expert at identifying aircraft and bombs, claimed the attack used "bunker-buster" munitions that shook the ground for a half kilometer, as well as cluster bombs." The medical aid providers, Me'decins sans Frontières (MSF), have reported that at least 114 children have been killed and 321 injured in the last three weeks of violence, as primarily Iranian-supported Shia militias backed by Russian warplanes, seek to destroy what little resistance remains in east Aleppo.
Against the backdrop of growing calls for western intervention to stop the slaughter, a furious US Secretary of State John Kerry announced last weekend that "Crimes against humanity are taking place on a daily basis. Hospitals are targeted and children are bombed or gassed." The UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and some EU foreign ministers echoed Kerry. This, while Russia has come under increasing criticism from Western nations for its attacks on rebel-held east Aleppo, with the US and several prominent political figures accusing Moscow of war crimes. The EU Foreign Affairs Council published findings on 10/17/2016 that concluded the bombing of Aleppo may amount to war crimes: "The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons, constitute a catastrophic escalation of the conflict and may amount to war crimes."
Targeting, hospitals, schools, markets bakeries, Mosques, Churches, and places where civilians gather with or without using indiscriminate weapons such as cluster bombs, incendiary bombs, IED devices, barrel bombs, gas, to name a few, are War Crimes. So are sieges targeting, starving, sniping and trapping the civilian populations of Aleppo, the Sunni towns of Madaya and Zabadani, and the Shia towns of Foua, and Kafraya, among 16 towns under siege today in Syria according to the UN. War Crimes all.