UN launches probe into raids on Syria hospitals, civilians

A Syrian boy, displaced from the town of Khan Sheikhoun, gazes at the makeshift camp where he currently lives in Idlib, near the Turkish border. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2019

UN launches probe into raids on Syria hospitals, civilians

  • The three-member board of inquiry to start work Sept. 30
  • Dujarric stressed that the board will only ascertain the facts of the attacks and will not assess blame

AP NEW YORK: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres selected a Nigerian general on Friday to lead a UN investigation into attacks on hospitals and other civilian sites in Syria’s last opposition stronghold in the northwest amid protests that its findings will be kept secret.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that the three-member board of inquiry to start work Sept. 30 will be led by Lt. Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor and include Janet Lim of Singapore and Maria Santos Pais of Portugal.

Dujarric stressed that the board will only ascertain the facts of the attacks and will not assess blame. Its findings “are internal documents and not for public release,” he said.

Guterres announced plans for the board Aug. 1 following a series of attacks on hospitals, schools and other civilian facilities in Idlib and the de-confliction area in northwest Syria.

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said: “It’s vital that the findings are made public, first of all so that justice can be done, but also so that it’s clear to combatants in Syria or elsewhere that there will be accountability for them for their actions. “The great fear of an unpublished report is that the facts never get out, and if the facts never get out there can’t be any accountability.”

SPEADREAD

• More than 500 civilians have been killed and many hundreds injured since the offensive began.

• Forty-three health facilities, 87 educational facilities, 29 water stations and seven markets had been affected by the fighting.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said the board of inquiry “should work quickly to attribute attacks on medical facilities and other humanitarian sites in Syria to the forces who committed them.”

“The secretary-general should make the investigators’ findings public. The UN needs to remind Russia, Syria and other parties to the conflict that targeting humanitarian facilities is a war crime and those responsible will be held to account.”

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said more than 500 civilians have been killed and many hundreds injured since the offensive began. The UN health and children’s agencies reported then that 43 health facilities, 87 educational facilities, 29 water stations and seven markets had been affected by the fighting, he said.


Rocket targeting US embassy in Baghdad intercepted while Iraq condemns Turkish operations against state

Updated 50 min 41 sec ago

Rocket targeting US embassy in Baghdad intercepted while Iraq condemns Turkish operations against state

  • There had been similar attacks on the Green Zone against American facilities in Iraq since October
  • Turkey’s operations in Kurdistan and other disputed territories in mid-June were aimed at removing suspected Kurdistan Workers Party

DUBAI: A rocket targeting the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone was intercepted by US Air defense systems with no claims of responsibility as of Sunday morning, Al-Arabiya News channel reported.
“The missile that was intercepted by the American embassy in Baghdad fell near a number of sit-in protesters close to the Green Zone area. It landed close to the bridge leading to the Green Zone itself,” Al Arabiya's correspondent in Baghdad Majid Hamid confirmed.
There had been similar attacks on the Green Zone against American facilities in Iraq since October that the US blamed on Iran-backed factions among Iraq’s security forces.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s military operations in northern Iraq were condemned by Ahmed Mulla Talal, the spokesperson for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, local daily The Baghdad Post reported.
“We strongly reject and condemn these actions that harm the close, long-standing relations between the two friendly nations,"  Talal said in a statement.
Turkey’s operations in Kurdistan and other disputed territories in mid-June were aimed at removing suspected Kurdistan Workers Party targets from the area. The airstrikes launched by Ankara have killed so far five civilians.
Talal accused Turkey for violating Iraqi sovereignty and described the country’s offensive as “detrimental” to “regional peace.”
The spokesperson added that his country had sent two letters to Turkey's ambassador to Iraq, and says Baghdad will have to refer to “international law” to stop Turkey.
“We hold the Turkish side responsible for the legal and moral responsibility for all the human and material losses that occur,” he said.