US calls for war crimes investigations into Russia, Syria

World Today

Secretary Kerry speaks on SyriaU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday for Russia and Syria to face a war crimes investigation for their attacks on Syrian civilians. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

The United States called Friday for a war crimes investigation of Russia and Syria, over attacks on civilians which Moscow is pushing strongly against.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., alongside visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Kerry said Syrian forces hit a hospital overnight, killing 20 people and wounding 100, describing what would be the latest strike by Russia or its ally in Damascus on a civilian target.

“Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities, and children and women,” Kerry added “these are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes,” Kerry said.

“Kerry’s statement – this is propaganda. There are some very serious legal consequences behind this terminology, and I think that Kerry used all of these terms to inflame the situation,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Friday, in response to the U.S. official’s statements.

“If it comes to war crimes, U.S. representatives should start with Iraq. And then move to Libya, and of course to Yemen – find out what’s there. I want to say that juggling these words is very dangerous, because there are indeed war crimes on the part of the American representatives,” Zakharova said, according to Reuters.

During his remarks in Washington, Kerry urged that the actions are “beyond the accidental now, way beyond, years beyond the accidental. This is a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians and to kill anybody and everybody who is in the way of their military objectives.”

Russia and Syria both accuse the United States of supporting terrorists by backing rebel groups. The Syrian and Russian governments say they target only militants, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. has little chance of being able to initiate a war crimes probe of either Russia or Syria. Russia has veto power at the U.N. Security Council and has blocked repeated attempts over the last five and a half years to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or hold it accountable for the widespread allegations of indiscriminate killing, torture and chemical weapons attacks.

Story compiled with information from The Associated Press and Reuters.