Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry for not exerting pressure on Russia and Iran to force their ally, Syrian president Bashar Assad, to end the siege on the town of Madaya.
Roth's remarks appeared in a post he wrote on his Twitter account in response to a tweet written by Kerry on Sunday. The US secretary of state voiced concern over the situation in Madaya, saying: "In Madaya, Syrians have been reduced to eating grass and leaves. Assad has responded with a siege, landmines, barbed wire to keep food out." Responding to this, Roth turned to Kerry saying: "So why aren’t you publicly pressing Russia & Iran to force him to stop. Create conditions for Geneva talks to work."
The criticism sounded by the Human Rights Watch chief comes amid a wider attack by the Syrian opposition on Kerry, claiming that he accepted diktats from Russia and Iran regarding the Geneva talks that were scheduled to start on January 29, but have not started yet.
In what may be perceived to be an attempt to placate the Kurds for their expected absence from the talks, an American delegation headed by US President Barack Obama's special envoy for the international coalition against ISIS, Brett McGurk, arrived on Monday in the Kurdish town of Kobani to discuss the fight against ISIS with senior Kurdish officials.
One of the Syrian-Kurdish leaders the American delegation met with was Salih Muslim, the chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), who was supposed to lead the Kurdish delegation in Geneva but was forced not to participate in the talks following Turkey's opposition.
In an interview with al-Hayat newspaper, Muslim claimed that American Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, assured him that the PYD would participate in Geneva talks. The visit of the American delegation to Kobani, and especially these assurances to PYD, could potentially anger Ankara.