US airstrikes in Syria: US forces must avoid repeat of civilian casualties
In response to United States airstrikes on a Syrian army airbase in Homs, three days after a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Idlib province, Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said:
“US forces must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and take all possible measures to protect the civilian population when carrying out military action, including by refraining from using internationally banned-weapons such as cluster munitions.
“Recent airstrikes by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed hundreds of civilians, many of whom were women and children trapped inside their houses.
“The United Nations Security Council has been unable to protect civilians in Syria for the past six years. It has emboldened all parties to the conflict in Syria to commit appalling crimes with impunity.
“It is imperative for member states to adopt a resolution that would ensure an investigation on the ground into the chemical attack that took place in Khan Sheikhoun and that would facilitate bringing perpetrators of such crimes to justice.”
Amnesty also drew attention to the double-standards inherent in President Trump’s public comments over Syrian civilians dying in a chemical weapons attack at a time that his administration is seeking a ban on Syrian refugees and people from six Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States.
Margaret Huang added:
“President Donald Trump said that the attack was prompted by concern for the lives of Syrian civilians, but his administration has shown callous disregard for Syrians attempting to flee for their lives.
“He must immediately revoke the Muslim travel ban and end restrictions on refugees from Syria fleeing the horrors at home.”
In October last year, an Amnesty report showed how just 11 US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria had killed approximately 300 civilians.