US Senator Warns of 'Rehabilitating Assad’s Regime'

Senator Jim Risch during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (Reuters)
Senator Jim Risch during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (Reuters)
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US Senator Warns of 'Rehabilitating Assad’s Regime'

Senator Jim Risch during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (Reuters)
Senator Jim Risch during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (Reuters)

US Senator Jim Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the US administration to do more to help Syrians.

In a statement issued by his office marking the 11th anniversary of the conflict in Syria, Risch said: “Since 2011, dictator Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, has overseen a campaign of death and destruction so horrific in scale that the UN stopped counting deaths in 2014 when the number reached over 100,000 civilians.”

“What’s more, after 11 years of barrel bombs, chemical weapons attacks, and countless airstrikes on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, key US partners now appear intent on bringing Assad back into the international fold,” Rich said.

The Senator urged the Biden Administration to stop enabling them and use all tools at its disposal to ensure “US policy toward Syria is consistent with our values. There should be repercussions for any nation that wishes to rehabilitate Assad’s murderous regime.”

Risch recalled that events in Ukraine serve as a reminder of the consequences of failing to hold dictators and war criminals to account for their actions.

Russia has learned from its experience in Syria and is now deploying the same weapons and tactics in Ukraine, including the potential use of chemical or biological weapons.

“We should learn from our mistakes in Syria to prevent a tragedy on a similar scale from unfolding in Ukraine. We can, and we must, do more,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Syria tweeted marking the 11th anniversary of the “Syrian uprising in Daraa and peaceful protests the Assad regime violently crushed. Assad regime violence destabilized the region, killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.”

The embassy warned that Russia has supported for years a military campaign in Syria warning that Moscow may use similar tactics in Ukraine.

The embassy stressed the need for accountability.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.