We thank the Commission of Inquiry for its latest report, and agree with its expressions of serious concern for the unacceptable levels of violence being perpetrated against the Syrian people. Let us not forget that this sad chapter in Syria’s history began over 800 days ago with the Assad regime’s decision to meet peaceful protests with violence, a response which started a conflict that has killed more than 80,000 people.
Although the Assad regime has yet to grant the Commission long overdue access to Syria, we applaud the Commission’s tenacity in nonetheless continuing to document violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties. We unequivocally condemn such violations and abuses. We reiterate our call, united with the Syrian people and members of the international community, for an immediate end to all violations and abuses, but especially the Assad regime’s egregious, widespread and continued violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. This bloodshed must end.
The international community must continue to support documentation and other efforts to lay the groundwork for accountability for these violations, even as work continues toward a political settlement based on the principles outlined in the Geneva Communiqué. The United States is helping Syrians prepare for this accountability by supporting the documentation of violations committed by all sides of the conflict, and bolstering the capacity of civil society organizations to build the foundations for lasting peace. We commend the effort by the Syrian opposition coalition to increase compliance with international humanitarian law through awareness campaigns, and encourage further such efforts.
This Council held an urgent debate last week on the situation in al Qusayr, condemning regime airstrikes and bombardment, and we reiterate the denunciation of such tactics and others that provoke sectarian tensions. We again condemn Hizballah’s direct role in the hostilities and its crimes against the Syrian people; it inflames regional tensions, escalates violence inside Syria, and incites instability in Lebanon.
The Assad regime and its supporters, as well as other armed parties, who continue to commit crimes against the Syrian people should know that the world is watching and that they will be identified and held accountable.
We have two questions for the commissioners:
To what degree have you received reports of Lebanese Hizballah fighters engaged in direct combat or indirect fire attacks against civilian population centers, particularly in al-Qusayr and its environs?
Similarly, have you seen any more evidence of violence by regime irregular forces (Shabhiha) against civilians, similar to those actions as reported during the Banias massacre?