UK envoy slams Russian ‘lack of humanity’ in Syria

UK envoy slams Russian ‘lack of humanity’ in Syria
Russia has been accused of a “lack of humanity” in the Syrian conflict by the UK’s Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce after it was revealed that more than half of displaced people in Idlib province are children. (AFP)
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Updated 21 February 2020

UK envoy slams Russian ‘lack of humanity’ in Syria

UK envoy slams Russian ‘lack of humanity’ in Syria
  • Nearly 1 million people forced to flee Idlib since Dec. 1 amid regime attacks supported by Russia
  • 60 percent of that number are children

LONDON: Russia has been accused of a “lack of humanity” in the Syrian conflict by the UK’s Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce after it was revealed that more than half of displaced people in Idlib province are children.
Pierce said the UN had recently been given a “sobering and frightening” briefing about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, where nearly 1 million people have been forced to flee Idlib since Dec. 1 amid attacks by regime forces supported by Russia.
She added that the report had revealed that more than 900,000 people were in “grave danger” as they escaped from the attacks in freezing winter conditions. Around 60 percent of that number are children.
Pierce, the UK’s ambassador-designate to the US, has been consistently critical of Russia’s involvement in the conflict, and accused Moscow of abusing the UN veto system to protect and help Syrian President Bashar Assad, who she said was “attacking his own people.”
She called on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Assad to “end indiscriminate and inhumane attacks” in the northwest of the country, which have led to innocent civilian casualties.
Pierce told Sky News: “I think it’s cynical of the Russians. I think it shows the lack of humanity. They would’ve seen the same footage and the scenes you’ve just shown your viewers, and yet they don’t want to do anything to try to protect civilians.”
She said the UN was ready and willing to back a cease-fire, but it could not happen until Moscow agreed to back it too.
“The UN wants to act and 13 members of the Security Council want to act, but we’re stopped from acting because of Russia, supported by China,” Pierce added.
“That’s the main thing — to get the Russians to restrain the Syrians and stop aiding them in the bombings that they’re doing, including the bombing of hospitals, which is against the Geneva Convention. Russia and the Syria regime don’t really care what price has to be paid by civilians.”
She also accused Assad of using the blocking of vital medical supplies to those in need as leverage in an attempt to regain control of rebel-held areas of the country.
“If Assad can’t put right the problems that led to the crisis in 2011-2012, then Syria will never be stable and the government of Syria will never be able to govern the whole of Syria,” Pierce said.
“So there are some very pressing, long-term questions to sort out as well as these immediate short-term needs.”
Her comments came after Russia on Friday proposed a summit on Syria that would include French, German and Turkish officials.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “concrete support” from France and Germany would be needed to bring an end to the conflict, and confirmed there would be no Turkish troop withdrawal from Idlib.


Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
Updated 26 min 22 sec ago

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
  • Trial is trying to piece together the details of how former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Wednesday resumed the trial of seven Turkish suspects accused of helping smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” from Japan to Lebanon.
The trial is trying to piece together the details of how Ghosn — a French-Lebanese-Brazilian national who was a global business superstar when his career came crashing to an end — fled Japan in December 2019 while out on bail facing financial misconduct charges.
The 66-year-old fugitive was arrested in November 2018 and spent 130 days in prison before completing an audacious escape act that humiliated Japanese justice officials and raised questions about who was involved.
The hearing concerns an employee with Turkey’s MNG Jet private airline who allegedly used four pilots and two flight attendants to move Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.
The pilots and the MNG Jet employee are accused of “illegally smuggling a migrant” and face up to eight years in jail. A hearing in July released them on bail but barred them from leaving Turkey.
The two flight attendants are accused of failing to report a crime and face one-year sentences.
All seven suspects deny the charges.
The indictment says the escape plan from Japan to Lebanon involved a stopover in Istanbul instead of a direct flight “so as not to arouse suspicions.”
Former US Green Beret member Michael Taylor and his son Peter are accused together with Lebanese national George-Antoine Zayek of recruiting MNG Jet and overseeing the secret operation.
The Taylors are currently fighting extradition from the United States to Japan and the whereabouts of Zayek are unclear.
The indictment says Taylor and Zayek put Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” and then took him through security at Japan’s Osaka airport.
They allegedly opened “70 holes at the bottom of the case for him to breathe easily.”
The indictment says the plane landed at Istanbul’s old Ataturk airport and parked near another plane bound for Beirut.
MNG Jet employee Okan Kosemen then allegedly jumped off the Osaka plane and boarded the one destined for Beirut together with Ghosn.
The indictment says Kosemen received several payments into his bank account totalling 216,800 euros and 66,990 dollars in the months before Ghosn’s flight.
He is also accused of being paid an unidentified amount after Ghosn’s arrival in Beirut.
Kosemen has denied being paid to help Ghosn escape while the pilots and flight attendants say they were unaware he was on board any of the plane’s flights.
MNG filed a complaint last year alleging its aircraft was used illegally.
It added at the time that one its employees had admitted to falsifying the flight manifest to keep Ghosn off the passenger list.