Syria chemical attack is war crime: Human Rights Watch chief

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth
Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth

A suspected chemical attack on civilians in Syria is a war crime that bears the hallmarks of Bashar al-Assad’s government, but its ally Russia shares potential criminal responsibility for its use, the head of Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the activist group, said countries should consider putting pressure on President Vladimir Putin ahead of Russia hosting the World Cup in June, as Assad was already “a man who has no reputation left”.

The alleged poison gas attacks on rebel-held Douma over the weekend killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 1,000, a Syria medical relief group said on Monday.

 Damascus denied its forces had launched any chemical assault and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such allegations were false.

“The use of chemical weapons is inherently a war crime. Add on top of that the people here who seem to have been targeted – which is typical for the Assad government – have been civilians,” Roth said in an interview with Reuters in his Geneva office.

“This use of chemical weapons against civilians sheltering in their basements is part of a broad pattern, not simply a pattern of chemical weapons use but a pattern of targeting civilians who happen to live in areas held by the opposition.”

These constituted grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions which should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) or by a future special court on Syria, said Roth, an American lawyer who has headed the group since 1993.


A Syrian father is shown carrying his child that was killed by the chemical attack in Douma April 8, 2018
A Syrian father is shown carrying his child that was killed by the chemical attack in Douma April 8, 2018

Russia has been the main ally of Assad providing men and military equipment in his seven-year fight against rebels.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to investigate on the ground. But some witnesses have reported that a Syrian government helicopter dropped a chemical cylinder that was later found, Roth said.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth speaks during a interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

U.N. war crimes investigators have documented more than two dozen uses of deadly chemical weapons by Syrian government forces since the war began in March 2011.

“In the past he (Assad) has used chemical weapons, not so much for the large number of people they kill, but because they are terrifying weapons. They demoralize the enemy,” Roth said.

“There is no question that the Assad government is criminally liable for the war crime strategy of targeting civilians,” Roth said.

“I think a strong case can be made that Russia shares criminal responsibility for the war crime strategy pursued by the Assad government in targeting civilians.”

Allegations that Moscow poisoned a Russian ex-spy living in Britain last month led to diplomats being expelled and tough financial and travel sanctions against Putin-allied oligarchs, Roth said.

“I hope that people are thinking about what can be done with the World Cup approaching to put similar pressure on Putin to rein in Assad and his atrocities,” he added.


  • Rascal

    Assad is out of control. It may be too late for Russia to put their dog on a leash. And really, the Iranian also bear responsibility where they have taken over much of military command.

    • Omega

      Where is the evidence?

      • vs

        Stupid Omega, half million people are killed already even not all chemically, are you need evidence really? Say thanks to god you are alive in your mental hole

        • Omega

          You might want to focus a little. This is about the “chemical attack” blamed, again, on Syria/Russia/Iran. Where is the evidence that they are behind it?

          Besides, since when do you care about the half million death? You hypocrite.

          • vs

            by what made in country chemical weapons (may be?) in Syria? It is very nice Russia finishing destroy all chemical weapons on its territory. Why was need to produce? I’m trying explain you, it is less important kind of death vs life and death. Is usual not chemical killing O.K.?

          • Omega

            What you think is important is irrelevant. Show the evidence.

          • vs

            Lol Difficult for you in this topic to focus on Britain and Israel, infosharmuta?

          • Omega

            No evidence. Okay.

          • vs

            Lol wau thank you veeeeeery much seems you are not abusing me calling cretin. Very appreciated. Lol have you evidence chemical attack was British or Israeli? US? No evidence. Okay.

          • Hind Abyad

            Je peux pas croire tu perds du temps avec ce détraqué.

            “Israel minister calls for assassination of Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad” chic alors ça ment comme ça respire.
            “Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant has called for Syrian regime President Bashar Al-Assad to be assassinated, Sky News reported.

            Israeli media reported that Al-Assad has left his presidential palace yesterday morning accompanied by a Russian military convoy for fear of an American strike, reports Russia has denied.”.. hahaha

          • Omega

            “détraqué” – tu le complimentes. 🙂

      • Rascal

        You are a minority that believes the Assad, Iran and Russian lies. Hard to say Russia is blocking an investigation right now. What are they hiding.

        Russia Vetoes U.N. Bid to Set Up Syria Chemical Weapons Probe

        • Omega

          What I believe is irrelevant. Show me the evidence.

          So far …

          • WMDs in Iraq – lie.

          • 2011 Syria – no evidence.

          • 2013 Syria – no evidence.

          • Skripal – no evidence to date.

          • 2018 Syria – no evidence to date.

          • Rascal

            It is highly likely that Russia has also block investigations like it always does. i am just a nobody like you on the internet and unless you have access to sensitive information it is unlikely that I have evidence to appease you, Maybe Russia should stop blocking investigations if it has nothing to hide. They look guilty with these actions.

          • Omega

            Ignoring the now-well-established lie about the WMDs in Iraq and to focus strictly on Syria:

            n.b.: I need to amend a correction to the aforementioned years. The first chemical attack in Syria was in 2013 (not 2011) and the second in 2016 (not 2013).

            2013 – Proven not to be Syria. Former U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Lloyd, and MIT professor, Theodore Postol, published a report on how the sarin has was delivered. It was determined that it could not have been fired from within areas controlled by Assad. Furthermore, a Turkish member of parliament (Eren Erdem) testified that Turkey’s intelligence helped delivers sarin gas to rebels in Syria.

            (In 2014, Syria agreed to destroy all of its chemical weapons. It was done so aboard the US naval vessel MV Cape Ray.)

            2016 – Despite the lack of evidence that Assad carried out the chemical attack and despite being briefed by CIA director Mike Pompeo that Assad was unlike responsible, “Trump” made the decision to strike Syria – symbolically.

            Let’s see what the recent “chemical attack” reveals.

          • Rascal

            You are much like dealing with the typical mullah/Assad apologist. There is not enough evidence available that you wouldn’t deny or disregard. I don’t need to show you where to find your satisfactory evidence/magical website, maybe if you looked yourself.
            Assad has already proven that he is just as nasty as the Jihads. He truly has no legitimacy and is merely a puppet on Russian/Iranian strings. Do not pretend Syria is a real country with real leaders anymore.

          • Omega

            You’re now throwing a tantrum and resort at silly irrelevance to cover up your inability to tackle the argument factually and intelligently. It’s not that you don’t need to show me “satisfactory evidence“, it’s that you cannot.

            I am not a mullah and/or Assad apologist. This is about forensic evidence to demonstrate that the Syrian government (supported by Russian and/or Iran) has in fact used chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. So far, nil.

            I don’t pretend that Syria is a real country, I know it is. You only need to check with the U.N.. The fact that you support the Western aggressors and their proxies on the ground (ISIS et al) to topple obstacle governments is a different story.

          • Hind Abyad
          • AlexanderAmproz

            La Russie et la Chine sont un bol d’air frais,
            aussi pour les Européens informés qui ont mare des menaces
            et sont malades de la Junk-Food envahissante !

            Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai qui tu es !
            (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “La physiologie du gout”)

            La Culture Culinaire Libanaise n’est pas en reste, Bravo !
            « L’ART DE LA GUERRE »

            L’empire américain d’Occident en crise

            par Manlio Dinucci

            Manlio Dinucci interprète les mensonges britanniques de l’affaire Skripal et de la Ghouta orientale comme le pendant européen de ce que furent les mensonges états-uniens à propos de l’Iraq. Dans les deux cas, observe-t-il, les Occidentaux tentent de maintenir leur domination sur le monde, face à la montée en puissance de la Russie et de la Chine.

            En 1991, le secrétaire d’État US, le général Colin Powell, est venu mentir avec aplomb au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies. C’est sur la base de ce qu’il a reconnu par la suite, à titre privé, être un faux témoignage que Washington a détruit l’Iraq.

            La guerre des droits de douane déclenchée par les États-Unis contre la Chine et les nouvelles sanctions contre la Russie sont des signaux d’une tendance qui va au-delà des événements actuels. Pour comprendre ce qu’elle est, il faut remonter une trentaine d’années en arrière.

            En 1991 les États-Unis, sortis vainqueurs de la Guerre froide et de la première guerre de l’après-Guerre froide, celle du Golfe, déclarent être restés « le seul État avec une force, une portée et une influence en toutes dimensions —politique, économique et militaire— réellement mondiales » et que dans le monde « il n’existe aucun substitut au leadership américain ». Faisant confiance à l’hégémonie du dollar, à la portée mondiale de ses propres multinationales et de ses propres groupes financiers, au contrôle des organisations internationales (FMI, Banque mondiale, OMC), les États-Unis instaurent le « libre commerce » et le « libre mouvement des capitaux » à l’échelle mondiale, en réduisant ou éliminant droits de douane et règlements. Les autres puissances de l’Occident avancent dans leur sillage.

            La Fédération Russe, en profonde crise après la désagrégation de l’URSS, va être considérée par Washington comme une terre de conquête facile, à démembrer pour mieux en contrôler les grandes ressources.

            La Chine, qui s’est ouverte à l’économie de marché, semble elle aussi facile à conquérir avec les capitaux et produits états-uniens et exploitable comme grand réservoir de main d’œuvre à bas coût.

            Trente ans plus tard, le « rêve américain » de la domination mondiale incontestée s’est évanoui.

            La Russie, s’étant constitué un front intérieur en défense de sa souveraineté nationale, a dépassé la crise en retrouvant le statut de grande puissance.

            La Chine, l’ « usine du monde » dans laquelle produisent aussi des multinationales états-uniennes, est devenue le premier exportateur mondial de denrées et effectue des investissements croissants à l’étranger. Elle défie aujourd’hui la suprématie technologique des États-Unis. Le projet d’une nouvelle Route de la Soie —un réseau routier, ferroviaire et maritime entre la Chine et l’Europe à travers 60 pays— place la Chine à l’avant-garde dans le processus de mondialisation, alors que les États-Unis se barricadent en érigeant des barrières économiques.

            Washington observe avec une préoccupation croissante le partenariat économique et politique entre la Russie et la Chine, qui défie l’hégémonie du dollar même. N’arrivant pas à contrecarrer ce processus avec seulement des instruments économiques, les États-Unis ont recours aux instruments militaires. Le coup d’État en Ukraine et l’escalade consécutive, y compris nucléaire, en Europe, le déplacement stratégique en Asie, les guerres en Afghanistan et en Syrie, font partie de la stratégie par laquelle les USA et les autres puissances de l’Occident essaient de garder la domination unipolaire dans un monde qui est en train de devenir multipolaire.

            Cette stratégie est cependant en train de subir une série d’échecs. Russie et Chine, soumises à une pression militaire croissante, ont réagi en renforçant leur coopération stratégique.

            La Russie, non seulement n’a pas été envoyée dans les cordes mais, avec un coup par surprise, est intervenue militairement en soutien de l’État syrien qui, dans les plans des USA et de l’Otan, aurait dû finir comme l’État libyen. En Afghanistan, les USA et l’Otan sont embourbés dans une guerre qui dure depuis plus de 17 ans.

            Comme réaction à ces échecs, s’intensifie la campagne pour faire apparaître le Russie comme un ennemi dangereux : à cet effet, est utilisée même la fausse nouvelle des attaques chimiques en Angleterre et en Syrie. La technique est la même que celle utilisée en 2003 quand, pour justifier la guerre contre l’Irak, le secrétaire d’État Colin Powell présenta à l’ONU les « preuves » que l’Irak possédait des armes de destruction de masse.

            Powell lui-même, en 2016, a dû admettre l’inexistence de ces armes. Mais en 15 années, la guerre a provoqué plus d’un million de morts.

          • Niemals

            Any more russia-insider bla, bla, bla by manlio_dinucci?

          • Hind Abyad

            Yes parroting Y K.

          • Omega

            Absolument d’accord sur tous les points.

            J’ai lu l’article de Meyssan à sa sortie, c’est excellent.

          • Hind Abyad

            You’re crazy, i can’t stand stupidity.
            “Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, said the draft resolution laid blame prior to an independent investigation.” Reuters.

          • Y K

            “You’re crazy, i can’t stand stupidity.”

            Another unintentionally funny moment from our pet cockroach Dumbyad. 🙂

        • Hind Abyad
      • Y K

        “Kakie vashi dokazatel’stva?”

    • Niemals

      Assad is not out of control, simply because Moskva is controlling Assad.

      Russia will put their dog on a leash when he accomplished Russian goal in Syria.
      If Assad is gone then the Russians maybe lose the foothold of the military bases they have had in many decades, as well as the big manpower – many are mearied with Syrians.
      The Russian care only about
      the strategic Russian bases in Syria, a renewed agreement is for another 40 years….

      The Iranian can’t do anything in Syria without the Russian approval.

      This time the Russian made a bad calculation, they didn’t expected that Israel will be doing the job for the United states as well as for their own sake.
      Now let hear the well known accusations about US fighting Israel’s wars….

      Agence France Presse
      MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday warned against speculation and “provocation” over the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syrian rebel-held Douma, the Kremlin said.

      “The leaders exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria including the accusations against Damascus by a number of Western countries of using chemical weapons. The Russian side stressed the unacceptability of provocation and speculation on this matter,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

    • Hind Abyad

      Ratscal is out of control.

      ‘Not so fast: British PM wants more evidence before attacking Syria’

      • AlexanderAmproz

        Je ne suis pas convaincu qu’ils osent attaquer,
        sait on jamais, mais le Monde change
        en faveur de la Russie, Iran et Chine….

        Pauvres Saoudiens
        Le danger qui pointe a l’horizon c’est MbS
        prêt a sacrifier son pays,
        encadré par les sbires du Mossad et CIA

        • Hind Abyad

          Très vrais!

    • Hind Abyad

      Zionists are out of control.

      “Trump‘s Red Line”
      Von Seymour M. Hersh | Veröffentlicht am 25.06.2017 | Lesedauer: 24 Minuten

      President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children.
      Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.”

  • Omega

    WMDs in Iraq – lie.

    Chem attack in syria 2011 – lie.

    Chem attack in Syria 2013 – lie.

    Let’s repeat the same lie over and over again until it becomes an established truth.

    • vs

      Stupid Omega, half million people are killed already even not all chemically,
      are you need evidence really? Say thanks to god you are alive in your
      mental hole. You are just fake as usual

      • Omega

        Focus cretin. This is about the “chemical attack” blamed, again, on Syria/Russia/Iran.

        p.s. Quit pretending you give a flying duck about the half million death.

        • vs

          Infosharmuta, cretin here is you

    • Y K

      The truth is simple, actually: the cuddly, cuteish, vegan-at-heart Baathist regime never ever hurt a fly. In fact, everybody knows that the Assad family converted to Jainism 70 years ago. 🙂

      • Omega

        I agree with your rhetoric but it doesn’t mean (and facts show so) that Syria was behind the chemical attacks of 2013 and 2016.

    • Hind Abyad

      “There are some ‘problems’ with gas cylinders videos used by White Helmets as evidence of Douma attack”

      • Omega

        There were problems with the chemical attacks of 2013 and 2016 too. Les cons.

  • vs

    Al Hussein believes that
    some states directly involved in the military conflict in Syria have
    failed and have not stopped the spread of chemical weapons. According to him, over the past five years, such weapons have been used in the country 35 times

  • vs

    Russia warned the US of serious consequences in case of a blow to Syria

  • vs
  • vs

    The American destroyer Donald Cook, equipped with 60 Tomahawk missiles, went 100 kilometers to the Syrian city of Tartus. This is reported by the Turkish edition of Hurriyet

  • Hind Abyad

    ‘Lebanon will file complain with UN Security Council over airspace violation by Israel

    According to the agency, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry will make a formal complaint with the UN Security Council against Israel’s violation of the country’s airspace, referring to Israel’s launch of an airstrike against the Syrian Arab Air Force’s (SyAAF) Tiyas airbase in the Syrian province of Homs on April 9.’

    • Y K

      Good for them! 🙂

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Obviously it’s a NATO Proxy behind the gas attack !

    Do London, Paris, Washington, and Tel-Aviv have to be Bombed ?

    • vs

      infosharmuta detected

    • Niemals

      Since when Israel joined to be a NATO member state?

    • Y K

      Did you wander off from “Russia Insider” as well? There’s already a nice little delegation here. 🙂

      • AlexanderAmproz

        You are welcome !

        • Y K

          I feel much enriched already by making your acquaintance, pal. But do feel free to regale us with more stories from! Anytime, buddy! 🙂

          • Hind Abyad

            Leave this place it gets you irked not good for you blood pressure..and giving commands gets you frustrated. Smirk

          • Y K

            “Leave this place it gets you irked not good for you blood pressure”
            Sipping coffee, feeling great, it’s a beautiful day. And how are you today? Already cashed that check? 🙂

          • Niemals

            You don’t need just check this Assad supporters spread false claims on child gas attack victims.

  • vs
  • vs

    Iran’s currency drops 18% in 2 days