Syrian American Council Calls for Response to Massacres in Idlib
WASHINGTON D.C., July 24, 2019 – The Syrian American Council calls for an urgent response from the Trump administration and international community following an escalating series of Russian-led assaults on civilians in Idlib province of northern Syria. More than 100 civilians were killed and wounded Monday in Russian strikes on civilian residences in Maarat al-Numan town, with a death toll of 39. Similar airstrikes on Urm al-Kubra village Sunday killed 12 civilians and wounded 22. A Russian aerial blitz on Jisr al-Shughur town last Thursday caused almost 90% of remaining town residents to flee toward Turkey.
U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Jeffrey is currently in Turkey for meetings to discuss a “safe zone” in northern Syria – but civilians in Idlib have found no safety from Russian airstrikes. During an interview at the Aspen institute this weekend, Jeffrey also insisted that the United States was not interested in removing dictator Bashar al-Assad but in “work[ing] with the Russians on this compromise solution, step by step through the political process.” Were it not for military deterrence from Turkey, however, Russia would have already led a far larger massacre in Idlib. The United States should work to increase that deterrence by way of material support to moderate rebel factions or through increased partnership with Turkey in Idlib.
While the Syrian American Council appreciates Ambassador Jeffrey's efforts for the Syrian people, Assad, Iran and Russia have a history of using diplomatic talks as political cover for the massacre of Syrians – and then ending talks once they achieve their military objectives. We do not accept a diplomatic compromise that comes at the price of Russia obliterating the last opposition bastion in Idlib and killing thousands of civilians. We call upon the Trump administration to exercise immediate pressure, including ramped up sanctions and the suspension of diplomatic talks, until Russia stops killing civilians in Idlib.
Michelle R. Taylor