Syrian war crimes

Sir, – Ronan Tynan mentions Amnesty International and the UN's Independent International Commission of Enquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in his recent letter laying the entire blame for the Syrian catastrophe on President Bashar Assad and his government. The apportionment of blame in these reports is considerably more wide-ranging than his one-sided letter (Letters, April 6th).

Amnesty International’s 2020 Report on Syria includes accusations that both the Assad government and the Turkish government and their allies conducted indiscriminate attacks on residential areas in 2019, and it repeats similar accusations of indiscriminate attacks previously made against the US (and its allies Britain and France) in the report War of Annihilation: Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa, published in 2018.

The report of the Independent International Commission of Enquiry on the Syrian Arabic Republic, which was published in March 2021, makes similar accusations of war crimes and breaches in international humanitarian law against all parties during the conflict, including the Syrian government, foreign governments on both sides, and armed group fighting both the government and Isis.

However, paragraph 42 of the commission’s report goes further, noting with tactful anonymity that “a number of countries” (ie the US and the EU) imposed “unilateral coercive measures” (ie economic sanctions) on the Syrian Arab Republic, “increasing the economic devastation inflicted on regular citizens . . . including the most vulnerable “. The report then repeats a call made at the onset of the pandemic by the secretary general of the UN to waive sectoral sanctions in order to ensure access to food and essential medical supplies.


Despite the commission’s muted but damning criticism these sanctions are still actively supported by both Mr Tynan and the Irish Government. Perhaps it really is time that both parties studied the report and made the appropriate response its findings require. – Yours, etc,