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Thursday , April 25 2019


UN points to likely war crimes in Syria

Syrian opposition politician George Sabra (C) takes part in a protest in front of Russian Consulate in Istanbul on Feb. 22, 2018 during a protest against the airstrikes and shelling by the Syrian government forces in Ghouta. (AFP)

GENEVA, March 3, (Agencies): Kuwait warned Friday that the ongoing humanitarian fallouts in Syria are threatening the overall international political situation.

The international community must stop the bloodshed in Syria and find comprehensive and permanent solution for the crisis, Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim urged in his speech at the 37th Session of the interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Al-Ghunaim stressed the importance of activating action within the human rights council’s measures, and separating human rights issues from political controversies, regional and international bargains, and international bureaucracy. Kuwait reiterates its firm commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and safety of its territories, he affirmed, expressing his country’s aspiration for a close cooperation with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura in efforts aimed at achieving peace in the region.

Kuwait is willing to back De Mistura’s efforts toward reaching an agreement based on the Geneva communiques and UNSC resolution 2254, Al-Ghunaim added, pointing out the humanitarian situation in Syria is a top priority to the Kuwaiti diplomacy.

Furthermore, Kuwait reiterates its willingness to exert all efforts toward improving the humanitarian conditions in Syria, and hopes that all humanitarian demands by the UN and its relief agencies to enhance the humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly in besieged areas, are met, said Al-Ghunaim.

Kuwait strongly condemns all human right violations in Syria, and voices deep publicaconcern over the current military siege imposed on eastern Ghouta, which is depriving innocent civilians of receiving necessary humanitarian aid, said the Kuwaiti diplomat. Kuwait also condemns the repeated assaults on medical facilities and infrastructures, and the random use of heavy artilleries and air strikes against eastern Ghouta’s residents, he affirmed.

Al-Ghunaim also reiterated his country’s demand for allowing UN and humanitarian bodies to enter conflict-stricken areas in Syria to deliver aid and relief to civilians stranded in those areas. Kuwait, meanwhile, supports the draft resolutions submitted by Britain concerning the humanitarian situation in Syria’s eastern Ghouta, Jamal Al- Ghunaim said Friday.

Speaking to KUNA, Ambassador Al-Ghunaim revealed that Kuwait is coordinating on the matter with Britain and other members of the UNHRC to bring to the spotlight the urgent humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta. The draft resolution will be supportive of the recent UNSC resolution 2401, which called for a 30-day ceasefire to allow humanitarian groups to operate in Ghouta, said Ambassador Al-Ghunaim. He indicated that the draft resolution will touch on the humanitarian violations committed in the Syrian region and it will call for the prosecution of those behind such crimes. The Kuwaiti diplomat indicated that investigations into violations in eastern Ghouta would be added to the file of UN teams tasked with monitoring the humanitarian situation in Syria since 2012.

Forces advance
Syrian regime forces have advanced inside eastern Ghouta, a monitor said on Saturday, as fighting intensifies on the ground to retake the battered rebel enclave east of Damascus. Russia-backed government forces on Feb 18 launched an assault of the besieged region, pounding the area with air strikes, killing more than 630 civilians. On Feb 25, clashes on the ground between the armed opposition and regime forces intensified on the edges of the enclave, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. Since Thursday, regime forces have advanced inside the region, retaking an area in the enclave’s southeast, as well as another and two military bases in the south from main opposition group Jaish al-Islam. “Regime forces and their allies have intensified their attacks on rebel positions in the past 48 hours,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

War crimes
Syrian government air strikes on the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta and shelling from the rebel-held zone into Damascus probably constitute war crimes and must be prosecuted, the top UN human rights official said on Friday. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the perpetrators of such crimes in Syria should know they were being identified and that dossiers were being built for future prosecutions. In one of the deadliest offensives of Syria’s war, government air strikes and bombardment have killed hundreds of people over 12 days in eastern Ghouta, an area of besieged towns and farms in the last major rebel-held region near the capital.

The UN Security Council called on Feb 24 for a 30-day ceasefire in eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people live. “Despite this rare example of unanimity, civilians in eastern Ghouta have reported that air strikes and shelling continue,” Zeid told the Geneva rights forum during an urgent debate held at Britain’s request. “Once again, I must emphasise that what we are seeing, in eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria, are likely war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity.

Civilians are being pounded into submission or death.” Zeid repeated his call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court, adding: “Attempts to thwart justice and shield these criminals are disgraceful.” Syria’s ally Russia has blocked previous efforts in the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the Haguebased ICC. Hussam Aala, Syria’s ambassador in Geneva, said that Zeid was “selective and biased” and that the debate was “politicised”.

The Syrian army had taken every step to protect civilians and had opened “humanitarian corridors for the passage of civilians to separate them from the terrorists”, he said, referring to the insurgents in eastern Ghouta. British Ambassador Julian Braithwaite said that the enclave had become “the epicentre” of suffering, with starving families hiding in basements from “indiscriminate regime bombing”. Britain presented a resolution condemning all violations and calling on UN war crimes investigators to carry out an inquiry into events in Ghouta and report back in June.

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