Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime retaliated against family members of Syrian opposition leaders who came to Geneva for recent peace talks, detaining them after having designated the delegates themselves as terrorists, according to a State Department statement issued on Wednesday by spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“The United States is outraged by reports that the Assad regime has arrested family members of the Syrian Opposition Coalition delegation to the Geneva II peace talks, designated delegates as terrorists and seized delegates’ assets,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement.
“We call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all those unfairly arrested, including Mahmoud Sabra, brother of Geneva delegation member Mohammed Sabra,” she added. According to a statement issued last week by the Syrian opposition, Mohammed Sabra said his brother had been detained at a checkpoint in the town of Jaramana.
Secretary of State John Kerry had over the course of weeks last January been at the forefront of pressuring Syrian opposition leaders to attend the so-called Geneva II talks, despite something of a consensus in the foreign policy community that the negotiations were largely hopeless. Justifications given at the time, which revolved around calculations that there was little to be lost by bringing the two sides together, may now emerge as having been overly optimistic.
The State Department on Wednesday also blasted Russia for continuing to aid Damascus.
What Assad “is doing is outrageous, unconscionable, unacceptable, disgraceful, craven, it’s horrendous. And we all know that. Everybody knows that,” Kerry said.
[Photo: Secretary of Defense / Flickr]