Del Ponte says Russian air strikes in Syria is 'good thing'

Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte says Russian intervention in Syria is 'good thing,' adding Moscow should distinguish between terrorists and others

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A man carries a child that survived from under debris in a site hit by air strikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 10, 2016

Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on Monday backed Russian air strikes in Syria during her inquisition into rights abuses in Syria.

Del Ponte told Swiss broadcasters that the reason she thinks Russian intervention is a good thing is because someone is finally attacking “terrorist groups.”

The member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria quickly added that Russians are “not distinguishing enough between terrorists and others, and that is not as good.”

Del Ponte's comments came amid an international outcry over Russian air strikes and the role they played in crippling last week’s peace talks, which are to resume on February 25.

Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte speaks during a press conference about the launch of latest report by the Commission to the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept, 3, 2015. (AP)

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura had suspended attempts to begin the dialogue between Assad’s regime and the opposition, as Russia pressed on with its bombing campaign on the ground.

At the request of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, Moscow launched a bombing campaign in the war torn country on September 30 last year, claiming to target DAESH and other "terrorist organisations."

Russia had been criticised on an international level for the high number of civilian deaths in air strikes and its intentional targeting of 16 schools and 11 hospitals, with some reports claiming over 1,800 civilians have been killed.

Air strikes had hit 875 targets in Syria since the start of the month, Russia’s Defence Ministry announced one day after the talks broke down.

A report released by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said there is evidence showing that Russia "has unlawfully used unguided bombs in densely populated areas," such as on residential areas, homes, mosques and busy markets, as well as medical facilities.

Del Ponte, almost 70-years-old, said on Monday that she thought Assad should be included in peace negotiations.

"If you want peace, you first have to negotiate with the regime," she said.

Detainees held by the Syrian government are being killed on a massive scale amounting to a state policy of "extermination" of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators said on Monday.

US President Barack Obama said in a conference last year, “the bottom line is I do not foresee a situation in which we can end the situation in Syria while Assad remains in power.”

The war in Syria started with peaceful demonstrations against the Assad regime in 2011, but descended into a civil war between five main factions - the regime, the opposition, Al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, DAESH, and YPG.

A further estimate of 350,000 refugees have sought asylum in European Union countries while more than 4.5 million others took refuge in neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest group with over 2.5 million.

A boy carries a baby in a site hit by air strikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria


TRTWorld and agencies