"Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
This article has been updated, 3:05 PM EST.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – United States Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday for the governments of Russia and Syria to face war crime investigations over their bombings of civilians in Syria.
Speaking from the State Department in Washington alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Kerry said that the Syrian government had attacked another hospital last night killing 20 people and wounding 100 others. It was not immediately clear what hospital he was referring to.
“Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes,” Kerry said.
“… They’re 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.”
Kerry said he looked forward to a “very frank conversation about what potential next steps are” to cope with the siege of eastern Aleppo, Syria, where 275,000 civilians are estimated to be trapped.
The United Nations declared the east of the city a “besieged area” earlier this week — it’s encircled by military forces, lacks humanitarian access and civilians cannot move about freely. The west of the city is controlled by the Syrian government and has continued to receive basic supplies, like food and medicine.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, estimates that 400 people have been killed in Aleppo over the last two weeks alone.
“We intend to jointly figure out how best to be able to deliver the strongest message possible about the actions that might be taken to deal with this bombing of Aleppo, the siege in — in the 21st century, this entire siege of innocent people,” Kerry said.
The U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, said Tuesday that bombings may constitute a war crime and should be referred to the International Criminal Court. He also called for a change in U.N. rules that allow permanent members of the Security Council, which the U.S. and Russia are party, to veto referrals to the International Criminal Court.
The U.N. Security Council is set to meet Saturday to consider a draft French resolution, co-sponsored by Spain, that calls for the grounding of all aircraft over the city. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stopped short Friday of saying the Russia would veto the resolution, but that he “cannot possibly see how we can let this resolution pass,” The Associated Press reported.
“Tomorrow will be a moment of truth – a moment of truth for all the members of the Security Council – do you, yes or no, want a ceasefire in Aleppo? And the question is in particular for our Russian partners,” said Ayrault.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby later said that Kerry would like to see the war crime investigations carried out within the realm of the international community.
On Monday, Kerry formally suspended ceasefire negotiation over Syria with Russia. The Obama administration is now looking for new ways to go about bringing a resolution to the five-year civil war that has killed more than 400,000 people.
Kerry also said that if the international community cannot implement the Minsk Protocol, an outline to resolving the conflict Ukraine, with Russia “in the next months or arrive at a clear plan as to exactly how it is going to be implemented … then it will be absolutely necessary to roll over the sanctions.”
He said this is “not our desire, but becomes the only thing left to do if we are not able to move forward.”