Syria Defends Rights Record as West, Turkey Accuse it of 'Starvation'

A child removes snow from the top of a tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria. (Reuters)
A child removes snow from the top of a tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria. (Reuters)
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Syria Defends Rights Record as West, Turkey Accuse it of 'Starvation'

A child removes snow from the top of a tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria. (Reuters)
A child removes snow from the top of a tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria. (Reuters)

Western powers and Turkey accused Syria on Monday of imposing "starvation" and siege warfare in opposition-held areas, as Syrian officials said foreign forces were illegally occupying parts of the country suffering from US-led sanctions.

Britain and the United States were among countries at the UN Human Rights Council calling on Syria to end unlawful detention and enforced disappearances, and allow humanitarian aid to reach all civilians after nearly 12 years of war.

"It comes as no surprise that most recommendations are hostile to my country. They come from countries that sponsor terrorism in my country," said Bashar Jaafari, Syrian deputy foreign minister.

Jaafari, addressing the forum's first review of Syria's record since Oct. 2016, said that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was facilitating aid deliveries.

"France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Turkey and Israel are all countries that are involved in the occupation of parts of my country and are violating international law by doing so," he said.

"The Americans are experts in destroying the infrastructure in the Euphrates region, they are destroying oil and gas infrastructure," he added.

Bathsheba Crocker, US ambassador to the UN in Geneva, urged Syria to grant unhindered access for humanitarian aid, including to besieged areas, and release people "who have been arbitrarily imprisoned and held without trial".

Britain's ambassador Simon Manley said: "The Syrian regime's treatment of its people is simply appalling. We strongly condemn its attacks on civilians and infrastructure. The use of starvation and siege warfare in opposition-held areas is deplorable."

Jerome Bonnafant, France's envoy, urged Syria to halt "unlawful executions, torture and inhumane practices in places of detention".

Turkish diplomat Muzaffer Uyav Gultekin said the Assad administration remained the main perpetrator of gross human rights abuses. She said these included "starvation, disruption of basic services, obstruction of humanitarian assistance" or the use of siege.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.