Syria has sent a formal accusation of US war crimes to UN Secretary General António Guterres and the UN Security Council. The Syrian side believes that the actions of the US-led coalition in Raqqa in 2017 led to the near total destruction of the city and mass civilian deaths. The time has come to shed light on the heinous war crimes committed in the city by the Western coalition between June and October 2017, when Raqqa was under siege and subjected to barbaric bombardment, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Syrian foreign ministry stresses that US and other Western coalition forces carried out indiscriminate artillery and air strikes against civilian infrastructure in and around Raqqa. According to the Syrian side, the military deliberately destroyed economic infrastructure, public and private property, while coalition missile strikes were accompanied by ground attacks by the Kurdish formations of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which did not distinguish between DAESH terrorists (a terrorist group banned in Russia) and civilians.
Despite the lack of an effective UN response over many years to curb US criminal activity in Syria, other international organizations have already repeatedly made documented accusations against Washington. In 2018, for example, Amnesty International released a report on human rights violations during the liberation of the Syrian city of Raqqa from DAESH. In the operation, which lasted from June to October 2017, the United States played first fiddle, with strong support from France and the UK providing air and fire support. Information gathered by Amnesty International on the ground in Raqqa, including through site visits and interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors, indicates that US coalition troops were not taking all possible measures to minimize possible civilian casualties. In some cases, they have deliberately targeted civilians or failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets, in violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality, according to the report. On this basis, Amnesty International has accused the US coalition in Syria of committing war crimes during the liberation of Raqqa from DAESH. According to human rights activists, US troops and their allies used phosphorous in bombing the city, destroyed vital infrastructure and looted. Washington faced demands to pay compensation to the victims and to try the war criminals, as well as to establish peaceful life in the city along with its reconstruction.
Human rights activists and international observers have previously repeatedly accused the United States of violations of international humanitarian law in Syria. For example, the use of toxic white phosphorus in the bombing of Raqqa was reported by Human Rights Watch. The United States has also actively used this criminal method of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the last month it encouraged the Nazi authorities in Kiev to use white phosphorus against civilians in Donbas in a similar manner. Moreover, through its leverage of power, Washington is keen to ensure that information of this kind rarely reaches the Western media and despite the civilian deaths and worsening humanitarian situation, the Western media deliberately sweeps it under the rug.
In addition to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Paulo Pinheiro, head of the UNHRC independent international commission of inquiry on Syria, criticized the criminal methods used by the US and its allies in storming Raqqa in 2017. This commission has documented the deaths of three hundred people as a result of just a few US airstrikes on Raqqa and its environs. The UN’s information was corroborated by the testimony of many eyewitnesses. In December, The New York Times told about the crimes of the US Army in Syria, hundreds of civilians killed, and the complete impunity of the actions of the elite US Army Special Forces “Delta.”
However, US war crimes in Syria did not begin with the airstrikes on Raqqa. The first attack by US forces inside Syria took place on October 26, 2008, when US special forces in four military helicopters crossed the border into Syria, landed at an unfinished farm in the village of Mashahdeh near the town of Abu Kamal and attacked locals. The attack killed 9 people and injured 14 others with varying degrees of severity.
The military aggression by the US-led international coalition has killed more than two thousand civilians, including 674 children and 504 women, according to the Syrian human rights organization SNHR. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that during the ten years of war in Syria 36% of the country’s 18 million inhabitants have lost their homes, 6.6 million people have become internal refugees, and 13.4 million people require humanitarian assistance. More than 5.6 million people have left Syria since 2011. The ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Syria is largely due to the involvement of international actors and, above all, the US in the conflict.
The use of the US Army and mercenaries to secure neo-colonial objectives has become the standard of US behavior. And this is especially clearly visible in the actions of Washington in Syria, where the United States, not only relying on the US army and thousands of private military companies (PMCs), continues to plunder this country, its energy resources, artefacts and any property of the Syrian Arab Republic. But, demonstrating their rights as a colonizer, they dictate to whom and how they allow contacting the official authorities of Damascus. Meanwhile, the list of crimes committed by US troops in Syria grows longer every day, making it inevitable that the UN will outlaw the US occupation forces in Syria.
The UN has previously expressed concern over reports of civilian deaths in US operations and believes it is important to investigate, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq told a briefing.
Russian Ambassador to Syria Aleksandr Yefimov commented on the US presence in Syria in an interview with RIA Novosti on February 9: “First of all, I will repeat what has been repeatedly said: the presence in Syria of the so-called “international coalition” forces led by the US has no legal basis — in the form of UNSC resolutions or the consent of the legitimate Syrian authorities — and must be terminated immediately. All the more so because the US is clearly not up to the task of fighting terrorism in Syria.”
In fact, the US has already turned into a state, defending blatantly Nazi “values”, as it is doing today in Ukraine in particular. An objective UN and international response to curb the activities of the US occupying forces illegally present in Syria and to punish the Americans responsible for the deaths of civilians in that country, and to withdraw US troops from Syria as soon as possible, is therefore long overdue.
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.