US Forces May Have Committed War Crimes in Syria: UN Report
A new report out Wednesday from United Nations investigators says that U.S. forces may have committed war crimes in Syria.
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Released by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the report catalogs how the eight-year conflict “continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities,” as operations carried out by the U.S.-led international coalition, militants, and Russia-backed pro-government forces have left essential infrastructure obliterated, civilians killed, maimed, and uprooted, and communities in “near complete destruction.”
The powers providing support for the warring parties, the report says, “bear a shared responsibility for the crimes committed against millions of Syrian women, men, and children.”
The commission’s findings are based on investigations conducted from January to July this year, including satellite imagery, interviews, and medical records.
Among the specific actions scrutinized in the report was the Al-Jazeera Storm operation in Hajin carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and international coalition. One strike in the operation targeted a residential building and killed 16 civilians, the majority of whom were less than 5 years old. The commission said its investigation turned up no evidence of an ISIL presence or military target in the area.
From the report:
The evidence obtained regarding this incident indicated that international coalition forces failed to employ the necessary precautions to discriminate adequately between military objectives and civilians. The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international coalition forces may not have directed their attacks at a specific military objective, or failed to do so with the necessary precaution. Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly.
Actions by terrorist groups and pro-government forces were also identified as possible war crimes.