WASHINGTON – The United States condemned the repeated use of barrel bombs and
SCUD missiles in Syria on Monday, describing the nature of the assault on the
nation’s largest city by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad as a violation
of international law.
The White House seemed to confirm a report from the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that over 300 civilians have been killed in
the past week, “many of them children.”
On December 17, a day after stern
warnings from the US State Department concerning the use of barrel bombs –
large, crude and heavy weapons, often packed with TNT and shrapnel for maximum
An elementary school outside the city was hit with at least one
“The Syrian government must respect its obligations under
international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population,” White House
press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement on Monday night. “The Syrian
government must fulfill its November commitment to do more to facilitate the
safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, so that millions of
Syrian men, women and children have access to urgently needed
Carney reiterated America’s interest in seeing all sides of
the three-year-old civil war come to the negotiating table in Geneva next
Meanwhile, Russia will host international talks on Friday on the
elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
The meeting in Moscow will draw together experts from Russia, the
United States, Syria, the United Nations and the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ryabkov told Voice of Russia radio on
Syria agreed to abandon its chemical weapons under a deal
proposed by Russia to avert US military action after a deadly August 21 sarin
gas attack the United States blamed on Assad’s government.
A plan adopted
by the OPCW in The Hague last month called for the most critical chemicals to be
transported out of Syria by December 31 and destroyed by mid- March. All other
declared chemical materials would be eliminated by June 30.
certain that we will be able to complete this process in the agreed time frame,
meaning in the first half of he coming year,” said Ryabkov.
trucks and armored vehicles to Syria last week to transport toxins to the port
city of Latakia for shipment out of the war zone by sea.
Russia has been
Assad’s most powerful supporter during the Syrian conflict, blocking attempts to
push him from power or punish him with sanctions. Along with the United States
and the United Nations, Russia is helping to organize a peace conference
scheduled to start on January 22 in Switzerland.
Reuters contributed to