Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America as delivered by Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney
Human Rights Council Session 31
March 15, 2016,
We thank the Commission of Inquiry for their years of tireless work and excellent reports; they, unfortunately, once again describe appalling atrocities, including what the COI characterizes as the Asad regime’s systematic targeting of civilians, restriction of humanitarian assistance, torture, and the detention and disappearance of civilians. Extremist groups, including Da’esh and Al-Nusra Front, also continue to commit widespread abuses.
The United States unequivocally condemns atrocities committed by all sides, but we must not forget what the Syrian people will always remember: Asad and his allies have been, from the very beginning, by far the primary source of killing, torture, and deprivation in this war. It is their actions taken against peaceful protesters that led to the escalation and became the primary magnet drawing foreign fighters to Syria, allowing Da’esh to grow.
United with the Syrian people and the international community, we call for an immediate end to all violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, especially those egregious, widespread, and continued violations committed by the Asad regime. We are deeply disturbed by the COI’s reports of indiscriminate chemical weapon and barrel bomb attacks, as well as attacks against hospitals, medical personnel and transport, and schools.
We applaud the courageous Syrian human rights defenders who, despite grave risks, continue to document atrocities committed by all sides. Their efforts, and those of the Commission of Inquiry, are all laying the ground work for holding perpetrators of crimes accountable in the future. It is not a question of if; it is a question of when.