Western powers and Turkey accused Syria on Monday of imposing “starvation” and siege warfare in opposition-held areas, as Syrian officials said foreign forces were illegally occupying parts of the country suffering from US-led sanctions.
Britain and the US were among countries at the UN Human Rights Council calling on Syria to end unlawful detention and enforced disappearances, and allow humanitarian aid to reach all civilians after nearly 12 years of war.
“It comes as no surprise that most recommendations are hostile to my country. They come from countries that sponsor terrorism in my country,” said Bashar Ja’afari, Syrian deputy foreign minister.
Ja’afari, addressing the forum’s first review of Syria’s record since Oct. 2016, said that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was facilitating aid deliveries.
“France, the UK, the US, Turkey and Israel are all countries that are involved in the occupation of parts of my country and are violating international law by doing so,” he said.
“The Americans are experts in destroying the infrastructure in the Euphrates region, they are destroying oil and gas infrastructure,” he added.
Bathsheba Crocker, US ambassador to the UN in Geneva, urged Syria to grant unhindered access for humanitarian aid, including to besieged areas, and release people “who have been arbitrarily imprisoned and held without trial”.
Britain’s ambassador Simon Manley said: “The Syrian regime’s treatment of its people is simply appalling. We strongly condemn its attacks on civilians and infrastructure. The use of starvation and siege warfare in opposition-held areas is deplorable.”
Jerome Bonnafant, France’s envoy, urged Syria to halt “unlawful executions, torture and inhumane practices in places of detention”.
Turkish diplomat Muzaffer Uyav Gultekin said the Assad administration remained the main perpetrator of gross human rights abuses. She said these included “starvation, disruption of basic services, obstruction of humanitarian assistance” or the use of siege.