Human Rights

  • Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Send to Kindle

U.S. Holocaust Museum: World Must Intervene in Aleppo to Stop More Syrian War Crimes

The international community must intervene in Syria and prevent the regime of Bashar al-Assad from committing more war crimes, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement Thursday.

Unless the international community intervenes to “protect civilians from mass atrocities and ensures their access to outside humanitarian assistance,” the residents of eastern Aleppo “could face annihilation” at the hands of the Syrian army in the near future, the museum warned.

President Bashar al-Assad and his government are committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians, including acts of mass killing, torture and targeted attacks on medical facilities and health care providers. The denial of humanitarian assistance and the regime’s intentional starvation of this population through a siege are war crimes. The government has used these same tactics over the past five years in eastern Homs, Idlib and numerous other towns and cities, leading to large-scale loss of life.

“The world is facing another Srebrenica moment,” stated Cameron Hudson, director of the museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “There can be no greater priority right now than guaranteeing humanitarian access, protecting civilian populations and preventing a massive, imminent loss of life.”

According to the museum’s figures, the Assad government is responsible for the deaths of over 400,000 Syrian civilians and the displacement of more than half the country’s population since the beginning of the civil war.

Although rebels broke the government’s siege in southern Aleppo last Saturday, trucks with food have been unable to access the city due to “intense bombardment,” Agence France-Presse reported Thursday. The situation prompted 15 of Aleppo’s remaining doctors to issue a public plea to President Barack Obama. “Unless a permanent lifeline to Aleppo is opened it will be only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops, hunger takes hold and hospitals’ supplies run completely dry,” they wrote. “We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers, we need your action. Prove that you are the friend of Syrians.”

Four people were reported dead and nearly 60 injured – including 40 children – when the Assad regime dropped two barrel bombs allegedly filled with chlorine on what it claimed were rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo on Wednesday. A BBC reporter posted a video of a doctor trying to save a newborn baby who had inhaled the gas.

Iran-backed Lebanese and Iraqi militias have been dispatched to Aleppo to support the Assad regime, Iranian media reported earlier this week. Harakat al Nujaba, an Iraqi Shiite militia backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has released a video showing its forces in the area.

A large contingent of Hezbollah commandos reportedly arrived in Aleppo earlier this week to assist in the siege. A number of them are said to have participated in the successful Qalamoun/Zabadani offensive last year. Since then, the Syrian army and its allies have maintained a siege of Zabadani, where residents are starving.

[Photo: DW (English) / YouTube ]