Syria Daily: EU Says Russia “May Be Guilty of War Crimes” — But Takes No Action v. Moscow

PHOTO: Rescuers carry a child after latest Russian-regime bombing of al-Qaterji area of Aleppo (Karam al-Masri/AFP)


UPDATE 1110 GMT: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has announced a 48-hour pause in Russian attacks on Aleppo, beginning at 9 am local time (7 am GMT) on Tuesday.

The Defense Ministry had said on Monday that the pause would be eight hours, but aid workers said this was insufficient to allow for any assistance (see below).

Shoigu repeats Russia’s line — also used soon after the imposition of a siege in late July — that “humanitarian corridors” would allow residents and surrendering rebels to leave east Aleppo, even though there is no evidence that the corridors exist.

UPDATE 1100 GMT: The public administration of opposition-held Aleppo has announced that 80% of drinking water is out of service in and near Aleppo, because of regime and Russian airstrikes.

The Russian-regime attacks destroyed power lines supplying two pumping stations southwest of Aleppo last month. A third station north of the city is near the frontline of fighting between pro-Assad and rebel forces.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: The European Union has said that Russia’s bombing of civilians in Syria may constitute war crimes, but has taken no action against Moscow.

EU Foreign Ministers did agree to impose sanctions on some more Syrians linked to the Assad regime, and they called for a ceasefire in opposition areas of Aleppo city, where Russian-regime airstrikes have killed more than 600 civilians in the past month.

The Local Coordination Committees documented 99 deaths in and near Aleppo on Monday, many of them in Oweijel, west of the city.

Despite the renewal of international talks on Saturday, about 150 people have been killed in the past 48 hours.

“Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, notably Russia, the intensity and scale of the aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate,” the EU said in its statement. It condemned “the deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure”, including with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, which “may amount to war crimes”.

The Foreign Ministers said the matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court, although it set out no procedure or timetable for doing so.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the EU had a moral obligation to act and “to stop the massacre of the population of Aleppo”.

Retrieving a body in Oweijel, west of Aleppo, on Monday:


No Action v. Russia

The EU also said it was ready to put more Syrians under travel bans and asset freezes, acting “swiftly…with the aim of imposing further restrictive measures against Syria, targeting Syrian individuals and entities supporting the regime as long as the repression continues”.

However, it did not — contrary to expectations of about 20 additions — extend its current list of 208 people and 69 companies under sanctions, and that was likely to grow to pressure the Assad government and those benefiting from it, diplomats said.

And diplomats said there were less support for any citation of Russians.

Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Madrid would back sanctions if they helped “bring Russia’s position closer to” the EU’s.

But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, while saying that London was considering imposing additional sanctions on Assad’s supporters, did not name Russia.

And Germany and Austria rejected the proposal.

“The idea to have additional sanctions against Russia would be wrong,” Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told reporters. “We do not need a further escalation.”

EU leaders will discuss Russia at a summit on Thursday. Russia’s closest EU allies – Greece, Cyprus and Hungary – oppose any penalties.

Russia: 8-Hour Pause of Attacks on Thursday

Trying to ease any political pressure on Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry said yesterday that attacks will be paused for eight hours on Thursday to allow civilians and rebels to leave the city.

Shoigu said residents and surrending rebels could depart through six “humanitarian corridoers”.

However, Moscow ruled out any ceasefire, claiming it would allow rebels the opportunity to regroup.

Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy said, “Given the situation, a unilateral ceasefire makes no sense, since Jabhat al-Nusra and groups allied to it will once again be given a breather, will regroup and restore their military capability.”

Jabhat al-Nusra, now called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, have few fighters in Aleppo city. However, Russia has long used the demand for withdrawal of the jihadists to offset any calls for a halt to bombing or the Russian-regime siege.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said a longer period was required to deliver aid to besieged opposition areas: “We will use whatever pause we have to do whatever we can. Obviously there is a need for a longer pause in order to get trucks in.”

Russia also announced seven corridors from east Aleppo to regime territory in late July, soon after the initial imposition of the pro-Assad siege. However, there was no evidence of relief for civilians — beyond Russian and Syrian State media staging interviews, just after the announcement, near the regime-opposition dividing line in Aleppo — and residents said those trying to move to regime areas risked being shot by pro-Assad snipers.

Assad’s Security Chief Visits Egypt

President Assad’s security chief has paid an official visit to Egypt.

The head of the National Security Bureau, Major General Ali al-Mamlouk, saw the Deputy Chief of Egypt’s National Security Agency, Major General Khaled Fawzi, and senior security officials during a one-day trip to Cairo

Syrian State media said the two sides agreed on political coordianation and “combating terrorism”.

Egypt broke relations with the Assad regime soon after the start of the 2011 uprising, but relations have improved since General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took power in a military coup in July 2013.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. [And beyond]
    Footage of the Taliban ambush.
    Per LWJ:
    The Taliban video confirmed their own claim that a large number of troops were killed and captured during the ambush. One scene shows a large number of captive Afghan troops sitting in a room. Several captured security personnel are interviewed at the end of the video. Other video clips show dozens of slain Afghan security personnel lying next to burned out or destroyed vehicles.
    The Taliban also show a large number of vehicles captured or destroyed during the ambush. Taliban fighters are seen driving several functional US-supplied HUMVEEs and Ford Ranger pickup trucks that are normally used by the Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police. One of the HUMVEEs captured looks to be so new that it has what appears to be shipping paperwork taped to the window. The Taliban also show a captured M1117 armored vehicle. A number of burned-out pickup trucks, HUMVEEs, and cars are also displayed in the video.
    The video appears to support the Taliban’s initial claim from last week that it destroyed “8 APCs [and] 1 Kamaz truck” and seized “1 armored tank [likely the M1117], 22 APCs [likely the HUMVEEs], 20 ranger pickups, 3 other vehicles and different types ammunition.”

      • Taliban can be accused of many things. Bacha Bazi is not among them. In fact, its prevalence among government troops leads the poor victims into the Taliban’s arms as a means to gain vengeance.

  2. DAGHESTAN: Syria, Crimea & Chechnya Aren’t the Only Places where a Russia Orthodox Genocide Campaign Against Sunni Muslims Is Ongoing.
    The mothers of young men who have been “disappeared” by the Russian authorities in Daghestan have organized to try to find out what has happened to their sons and to press for change in that North Caucasus republic, despite official denials that there is any such problem and in the face of opposition to the mothers’ efforts by Daghestani and Russian officials. Putin knocks off Sunni muslims in the same way he murders opposition journalists and politicians.

  3. Putin’s paranoia: fear and loathing inside the Kremlin
    New book by journalist who spent years interviewing dozens of sources reveals a regime where disloyalty is the biggest crime
    Donald Trump will hate “All the Kremlin’s Men.” Trump’s campaign staff includes so many advisors recommended by Putin. Trump gave the Russian leader an “A” rating for leadership and cited Putin as role model. Trump in on record defending Putin against charges of having killed over 50 opposition his role model. Trump defends Putin’s murder of over 50 journalists and politicians over four years. Trump supports Putin’selection hacking & crimes in the Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. Trump vows to end sanctions on Russia.

  4. An interesting article by the Carnegie Foundation on Syria:
    According to the article Assad will continue the fighting in Syria because it needs to secure the economic and financial assets in order to survive a political transition from war to peace (e.g. it needs to grab all the resources and infrastructure for itself to sustain some form of Assadist rule – in Latakia province perhaps? – whilst making sure to leave no resources or infrastructure to rebels hence the indifference to indiscriminate bombing of civilians areas captured by rebels), here’s an excerpt from that above article:
    “But the regime has lost most of these resources and levers in the course of the conflict. It has only maintained its hold by encouraging loyalist networks to embed themselves deeply in the war economy, developing alternative modes of income generation and recreating pre-conflict patterns of collusion between security agencies, state bureaucrats, and Ba’th Party cadres and black economy actors. At the same time, the regime has directed Iranian credit lines and commercial contracts towards privileged business cronies, again replicating long-established patterns and intensifying them… For now, therefore, the regime needs war, as its only means of deferring the full costs of reconstruction and reabsorption of hostile communities and of deflecting pressure from its own ranks, by keeping loyalists mobilized against the perceived existential threat and redirecting them to meet their needs from the war economy. But, contrary to those who assume that the regime uses violence only to secure Assad’s presidency and continued political dominance, its strategic purpose will shift—if it has not already done so. Its logical goal can only be to regain access to external capital and markets, and to get sanctions lifted.”

  5. Pure craziness in Northern Syria. YPG attacking Tel Malid. At the same time rebels are preparing to move on Tel Rifaat west of Merea. Turkish artillery has been used on Tel Rifaat before after the SDF/YPG took it. I imagine that the Turks will continue to support.

    Mark ‏@markito0171 · 1h1 hour ago

    #Syria Expect clashes btw #FSA & #YPG along #Aleppo frontlines
    #FSA demand #YPG to withdraw from Tal Rifaat in 48h

    • You got that right. The military situation in Northern Syria can easily spin into unanticipated directions. Erdogan is unpredictable at a minimum. He definitely has a tiger by the tail with the Kurds. It is interesting that the EuphratesShield units haven’t attempted to take Manbij. The YPG aren’t intimidated. Will FSA go for Al-Bab or head southwest to break the Aleppo siege? If Turkish firepower is used in support all bets are off. I’ve seen reports of Russian airstrikes south of Mare. A definite warning to Ankara. Regional powers are making moves that seem to ignoring Washington’s concerns.

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