Washington, Feb 23: Asserting that Bashar al-Assad had gassed his own people, the US on Friday accused the Syrian President of committing "war crimes" with Russian support in the strife-torn country where over 400 civilians have been killed in air strikes and bombardments in rebel strongholds in a week.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said the US is monitoring the situation and has put the Assad regime as well as Russia "on notice". His remarks come as more than 400 civilians were killed over the last five days in the Syrian government's Russia-backed air strikes and bombardments in rebel strongholds.
"Bashar al-Assad has already committed war crimes. He has already gassed his own people with sarin, he has already committed unthinkable acts,â Shah told reporters at a news conference, when asked if President Donald Trump believes that Assad is committing "war crimes", said Shah.
Assad has been committing war crimes with support of the Russians, he claimed. "We don't want that to continue," he said, adding the US is monitoring the situation. "(We) don't want to get ahead of anything that may or may not be announced on that front. But you know the Assad regime and Russia's actions on this front are on notice," he said when asked what more can Trump do to stop the killings.
At a separate news conference the State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said more than 400 civilians have been "horrifically" killed by the Syrian regime.
"As we all know, they are backed by not only Russia but also Iran. It is a good reminder that Russia bears a unique responsibility for what is taking place there. Without Russia backing Syria, the devastation and the deaths would certainly not be occurring," she said.
During a UN Security Council meeting on Syria in New York, the US urged the 15-member body to move forward with this ceasefire and humanitarian resolution immediately. It expressed concern over the situation in Eastern Ghouta, where fresh bombardments by Syrian government yesterday killed dozens.
"The pictures and videos are everywhere. Screaming parents digging through rubble to find their children. Doctors working frantically with no medicine and no equipment in underground hospitals to save whoever they can," said Kelley Currie, US Representative for Economic and Social Affairs.
"These are not terrorists showing up in these makeshift emergency rooms. These are civilians. They are ordinary people under attack by a barbaric Assad regime that is bent on leaving eastern Ghouta levelled to the ground, with no regard for the 400,000 men, women, and children who live there," she added.
"No one needs to use their imagination to know what the Assad regime is planning," she said.
"It is exactly what we saw in Aleppo in 2016 and in Hama and Homs before that. The Assad regime wants to bomb or starve all of their opponents into submission. That is why, except for two small deliveries of aid, the regime has not allowed any medical convoys or deliveries of food into eastern Ghouta since November. And the bombing attacks have been relentless," Currie said. She alleged that the regime wants "to keep bombing and gassing" these 400,000 people and is counting on Russia to make sure the Security Council is unable to stop their suffering.