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UN report slams US and allies for failing to protect civilians and violating international law

The report’s mixed conclusions are indicative of a UN which is a deeply compromised international body.

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The United Nations Syria Commission has found that the United States and its allies have not taken adequate steps to protect against multiple civilian casualties.

Today’s report states,

“The Commission is gravely concerned about the impact of international coalition airstrikes on civilians”.

In describing US violations of established international law in Syria, the UN Commission report said,

“(The) forces of the United States of America failed to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects when attacking a mosque, in violation of international humanitarian law.

…ongoing Syrian Democratic Forces and international coalition offensive to repel [Islamic State or IS, formerly ISIS] has displaced over 190,000 persons, and coalition airstrikes have reportedly resulted in significant numbers of civilians killed and injured”.

Beyond this information, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has repeatedly stated that US presence in Syria is illegal according to international law. US forces and those of their allies have not been authorised by the UN to conduct any military action on Syrian soil and likewise, they are not acting in accordance with the Syrian government. By contrast, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah forces are acting with the permission and cooperation of the Syrian government.

RT recently interviewed Syrian civilians who had escaped from the besieged city of Raqqa which is suffering doubly under both ISIS occupation and illegal US bombardment which the UN has recently condemned.

According to a former resident of Raqqa,

“We were directly targeted by the coalition after their reconnaissance craft filmed us, it was at a low altitude.

It was very clear that there were no insurgents in that area, there were kids playing in the streets and we were bringing water from a water tap, sipping drops. We were filmed, then directly targeted after hours. Our house and the civilian houses around us were directly targeted”.

Another eyewitness told RT about America’s use of the chemical weapon white phosphorous in Syria. He said,

“It has been said that the coalition used white phosphorus in the Faros neighbourhood of Raqqa. It was the aircraft. Who else would do that? It should be the aircraft. It targeted a civilian neighbourhood and the close-by areas”.

READ MORE: America’s hypocritical war crimes continue in Syria, Iraq and beyond

The Syrian government has recently written to the United Nations asking for compensation from the US and its allies for the destruction they have wrought on the country, including regarding the use of white phosphorus chemical weapons in Raqqa. The US also stands accused of using these chemical weapons in Iraq.

In many ways, the UN remains structurally deadlocked on the issue, due to the ideological prism through which the US continues to view the Syria crisis. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the US has gone a long way to attempt and influence the UN in favour of a clearly biased version of general events in Syria, but particularly those relating to the infamous alleged chemical weapons incident from the 6th of April, 2017.

While the deaths and injuries of civilians as a result of US airstrikes on Syria are a prima facie reality as is the fact that the US has no legal mandate, the events surrounding the chemical weapons incident in Idlib in April are far less clear.

After initially believing that Syrian airstrikes in Idlib may have hit a chemical weapons storage facility belonging to local terrorists, Russia has more recently concluded that the ‘attack’ was a staged event, after investigating the aftermath of the incident.

Russia has reached this conclusion due to the fact that no one in the area requested nor attempted to obtain an antidote for exposure to the highly toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) refused to conduct an investigation on-site in Idlib, citing safety concern due to the substantial terrorist presence which remained in Idlib after April. Russia continued to request such an investigation and even offered help insure the safety of investigators, but the offer was never taken up by the OPCW.

This, combined with the fact that there remains no credible evidence of a Syrian instigated chemical attack in Idlib or for that matter any actual chemical attack at all, Russian concluded that the incident was a terrorist organised false flag designed to frame the Syrian government for a crime which it could not have committed, as the international community has accepted a 2013 OPCW report and accompanying investigation which confirmed that Syria has given up its entire chemical weapons stocks by 2014.

READ MORE: Russia submits resolution to UN on chemical weapons attack in Syria

Syria has further repeatedly stated that it has never used such weapons, even prior to 2014 when Syria possessed such weapons which were initially sought as a deterrent to Israel’s nuclear weapons.

READ MORE: SYRIAN GOVERNMENT–We have never used chemical weapons

In spite of clear evidence to the contrary, the UN Commission has adopted the unilateral US narrative stated,

“All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Shaykhun at around 6:45am on 4 April”.

It is an unfortunate reflection on the compromised nature of the United Nations that a UN Commission has made a statement in line not with any investigation at or near the location of the alleged attack, but rather with a US narrative predicating on conveniently denying what Barack Obama’s administration signed off for when Obama accepted that since 2014, there have been no chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian government.

In spite of this, the Idlib incident is largely an academic issue as since April, Syria and its partners in the war against terrorism, have liberated vast swaths of territory from groups like al-Qaeda, FSA and ISIS.

The recent breaking of the ISIS siege against Deir-ez-Zor has been a watershed moment in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, one which marks the beginning of the end of ISIS as force that is capable of putting up meaningful resistance on the battle field.

By contrast, the US crimes against international law in Raqqa which the report cites, are an ever present and ongoing threat to the civilians of Syria.

While US ideology still controls the wider MSM narrative on the Middle East, Washington dictates increasingly little in respect of what is happening on the ground in Syria. This is all the more crucial as the US had decided to back Wahhabist extremists in a battle against a secular, multi-faith government in one of the ancient cradles of world-civilisation, a civilisation which the terrorists operating against the Syrian government have threatened and continue to do so, in places like Libya and beyond.

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Tim Webb
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Tim Webb

The crucial fact here is precisely that stated by Lavrov; ie the US and its lapdogs have no business being in Syria whatsoever; their presence is a flagrant breach of international law; and the UN must either state this publicly and strongly, and demand their immediate and unconditional withdrawal, or disband itself, as being an accomplice after the fact.

margarida
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margarida

THE USA HAS BECOME A LAWLESS COUNTRY THAT HAS NO RESPECT FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL LAW WHEN IT GOES AGAINST THEIR FOREIGN POLICIES. It is time the world takes action and does something to stop continuing this trend. Today we are allies tomorrow we could become foes for not accepting to comply as we have up to now ………It is a risk we too well know we cannot afford to take. Look at Iraq, Libya, Syria, and all others that have come underfire..

Wayne Blow
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Wayne Blow

All terrorist orgs., are backed, trained, and weaponized by USA scum-bags!!!!

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“United States … have not taken adequate steps to protect against multiple civilian casualties” They NEVER have. Starting with carpet bombing during WWII in Europe, NOT only in Germany, but also in France, Netherlands and Yugoslavia. The US bombing in Normandy in 1944, killed 70,000 civilians. They always “liberated” … ruins. The total number of houses completely destroyed in Normandy by the “Allies” bombings was 432,000, partly destroyed houses – 890,000. Caen, Normandy in ruins after bombings of July 8th and 9th, 1944: Belgrade was bombed by US/UK air forces on April 16 and 17, 1944, the Orthodox Easter Day.… Read more »

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Ghost town: Raqqa “liberated” by US air force. Vietnam redux: “We have to destroy a village, in order to save it” – American general
https://youtu.be/lJEoC_Cpzs0

Trauma2000
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Trauma2000

This is sickening. First the U.$. and France and Britain arm, train and fund Terrorists so that they can try and pretend that attacking a country has nothing to do with NATO. To achieve that they train the Terrorists to kill civilians and force them to flee for their lives hoping to deprive the country of human capital. Then, because the Assad government now appears to be winning; and despite NATO pretending not to notice for 5 years; they now decide that they need to “Fight” the same “Terrorists” (sorry, Moderate Rebels) that they used to arm, fund, train and… Read more »

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

‘It’s not liberation of the city, but destruction’ – Raqqa-based journalist

cap960
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cap960

Russia killing civilians is a crime…our western warmongers killing civilians is collateral damage. Therefore the UN will do nothing else but write reports and allow the US to keep on bombing countries that refuses to follow our exceptional orders. Because we all know how easily insulted our exceptional get when you come up with the words “No more wars”.

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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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