Turkey urges Russia, Iran to 'stop' Syria govt in Eastern Ghouta

A Syrian man checks the site of Syrian government bombardments in Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on Feb. 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2018

Turkey urges Russia, Iran to 'stop' Syria govt in Eastern Ghouta

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday called on Russia and Iran to "stop" the Syrian bombardment of the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta after more than 400 civilians were killed there since Sunday.
"Russia and Iran must stop the regime," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
As part of a peace process aimed at stopping the seven-year war in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia sought to create de-escalation zones across the country, including one for Eastern Ghouta and the rebel-held Idlib province.
Cavusoglu said the regime's offensive in the enclave as well as in Idlib was "contrary" to the agreements negotiated by the three countries.
At least 426 people including 98 children have been killed since the Syrian regime and its Russian ally intensified their bombardment of the besieged area on Feb. 18, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
More than 2,000 people have also been wounded in the enclave east of Damascus.
"Since the beginning of the conflict, tens of thousands of people have died in Eastern Ghouta alone, and that is enough, these people must not die," Cavusoglu said.
Turkey has been working closely with strong regime supporters Moscow and Tehran despite repeatedly calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
"The killing of women and children... this is a typical method of the regime," Cavusoglu said, as he called for a ceasefire.
Ignoring international calls to stop the bloodshed, the regime again bombed the besieged region on Friday, killing at least nine people, the Observatory said.
After unsuccessful attempts, the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote at 1600 GMT on a draft resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
Diplomats said it was not known whether Russia would use its veto to block the draft resolution.


UN warns of possible ‘war crimes’ in Turkish-controlled Syria

Updated 24 min 37 sec ago

UN warns of possible ‘war crimes’ in Turkish-controlled Syria

  • The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, Bachelet’s office said
  • Those affiliated groups have also seized and looted houses, land and property without any apparent military necessity, said OHCHR

GENEVA: Armed groups in the area of northern Syria controlled by Turkey may have committed war crimes and other violations of international law, the UN rights chief said Friday.
Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the situation in those areas of Syria was grim, with violence and criminality rife.
In a statement, Bachelet’s UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said it had noted an “alarming pattern in recent months of grave violations,” having documented increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions.
The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, Bachelet’s office said.
Those affiliated groups have also seized and looted houses, land and property without any apparent military necessity, said OHCHR.
Furthermore, increased infighting among the various Turkish-affiliated armed groups over power-sharing was causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.
Turkey controls large stretches of northeastern Syria through various armed groups, and is conducting operations aimed at driving out Kurdish militias and extremists.
In October last year, Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies occupied a 120-kilometer (75-mile) stretch of land inside the Syrian border from Kurdish forces.
Ankara has also deployed forces in several military posts it established in northwestern Idlib as part of a 2018 deal with regime ally Moscow, while Turkey also controls a stretch of territory along its border in neighboring Aleppo province following a series of military offensives since 2016.Bachelet’s office said it had documented the abduction and disappearance of civilians, including women and children.
It also said that from the start of the year until last Monday, it had verified the deaths of at least 116 civilians as a result of improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war, while a further 463 civilians were injured.
“I urge Turkey to immediately launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the incidents we have verified, account for the fate of those detained and abducted by the affiliated armed groups and hold accountable those responsible for what may, in some instances, amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes,” Bachelet said.
“This is all the more vital given that we have received disturbing reports that some detainees and abductees have allegedly been transferred to Turkey following their detention in Syria by affiliated armed groups.”
Meanwhile Bachelet voiced concern that parties to the conflict in Syria were using essential services as a weapon.
“Impeding access to water, sanitation and electricity endangers the lives of large numbers of people, a danger rendered all the more acute amid fighting a global pandemic,” she said.