Stop Russia’s War on Civilians, Syrian National Coalition Tells Security Council

In response to Russia’s military aggression in Syria, the President of the Syrian National Coalition, Khaled Khoja, delivered a letter to the Security Council on Thursday 1 October, condemning Russia’s indiscriminate airstrikes across Syria and calling on Member States to:

  • Condemn Russia’s military aggression in Syria, and;
  • Pursue all means necessary to stop the indiscriminate aerial bombardment in Syria, including through the enforcement of a ban on aerial bombardment, through the establishment of a no-bombing zone.

President Khoja warned that if Russia–as party to the conflict—refused to allow the Security Council to act, Member States should themselves ensure the protection of civilians.  President Khoja wrote, “Russia’s indiscriminate aerial attacks are part of an overt and calculated attempt by Russian forces to aid and abet the Syrian regime’s war on civilians.  They are designed not to counter terrorist extremist groups like ISIS, but to support the Assad regime’s indiscriminate slaughter of civilians.” The full text of the letter in available below and in PDF here.

H.E. Mr. Román Oyarzun Marchesi
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations
President of the UN Security Council

1 October 2015

 

Your Excellency,                 

On behalf of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, it is with great alarm that I draw your attention to escalating Russian military aggression in Syria and its lethal impact on civilians.

On Wednesday, Russian air forces indiscriminately attacked opposition-held areas in Homs province, leaving behind a path of destruction and death in their wake.  Under the false pretence of engaging in counter-terrorism operations, Russian forces indiscriminately bombed civilian areas, killing innocent men, women and children.  Rescue workers from the Syrian Civil Defence Teams on the ground reported that Russian warplanes indiscriminately bombed civilians, resulting in 34 civilian deaths, ten of which were children and seven of which were women, as well as 146 injured, including 45 children.

These indiscriminate aerial attacks are part of an overt and calculated attempt by Russian forces to aid and abet the Syrian regime’s war on civilians.  They are designed not to counter terrorist extremist groups like ISIS, but to support the Assad regime’s indiscriminate slaughter of civilians. By involving itself so directly in the killing of innocent Syrians, Russia makes itself a direct party to the Syrian conflict and risks implicating itself in war crimes. Russia’s actions violate not only the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War but also Security Council resolution 2139, which demands that all parties to the conflict distinguish between civilian populations and combatants and refrain from indiscriminate attacks and attacks on civilians.

Your Excellency, Russia’s actions will have consequences—not merely for Russians inside Syria, but for the fight against ISIS.  Russian forces’ indiscriminate slaughter of civilians will fuel extremism and exacerbate the refugee crisis. Like Assad’s barrel bombs, Russia’s unwanted invasion will serve as a recruiting tool for ISIS and will make Syria—and the world—less safe.

On behalf of the people of Syria, I appeal to Member States of the Security Council to work with urgency to condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s illegal military aggression in Syria and pursue all means necessary to stop the indiscriminate aerial bombardment in Syria, including through the enforcement of a ban on aerial bombardment: a no-bombing zone.  If Russia–as party to the conflict—will not allow the Security Council to act, Member States must themselves ensure the protection of civilians.   

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration. 

Dr. Khaled Khoja
President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
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National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
Committed to a free, democratic, and pluralistic Syria.