The Latest: US names Syrian officers accused of attacks

AP News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2016 2:22 PM
The Latest: US names Syrian officers accused of attacks

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is naming five Syrian commanders allegedly responsible for carrying out military assaults on cities, residential areas and civilian infrastructure since 2011, saying "one day they will be held accountable."

Samantha Power told the Security Council on Monday that the United States also knows where torture takes place in Syria, citing four military intelligence branches, the Air Force Intelligence Investigation Branch in Mezzeh military airport, and the Tishreen and Harasta military hospitals.

She named eight commanding officers and prison officials who work at these facilities, saying the United States "will continue fighting to hold them accountable for their hateful crimes."

Power stressed that "today's atrocities are well-documented and the civilized world's memories are long," pointing to Bosnian Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic and former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who both eventually faced justice.

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9 p.m.

The World Health Organization says 126 health care facilities in Syria were attacked between January and September — and that 11 hospitals were attacked in November alone, some more than once.

The WHO's Syria director, Elizabeth Hoff, told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that this month's attacks had left rebel-held eastern Aleppo with all eight of its hospitals either "out of action or ... barely functioning."

Hoff, who spoke by video from Damascus, denounced the "the militarization of health care facilities by several parties to the conflict, the targeting of health care personnel, and the denial of medical and surgical supplies in many areas."

She urged the council to ensure that combatants have the coordinates of all convoys and health facilities, to help end attacks on hospitals and health workers, and "to use every last ounce of your influence to bring an immediate end to the suffering in Syria."

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7:15 p.m.

The U.N. humanitarian chief says conditions in Syrian rebel-held eastern Aleppo have gone "from terrible to terrifying and now barely survivable."

Stephen O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that the last available U.N. food rations were distributed on Nov. 13 and only "a handful of rations" from local non-governmental organizations remain in the besieged area.

He says food in markets is scarce, prices have skyrocketed and fuel and gas for cooking is reportedly unavailable in most neighborhoods.

Discontent is growing, O'Brien said, pointing to protests against corruption and a monopoly on goods last week, some which turned violent, "indicating the extreme desperation of the trapped citizens."

Adding to the humanitarian crisis, the people of eastern Aleppo "will shortly face a harsh winter without heating or the bare essentials for life."

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7 p.m.

The U.N. humanitarian chief says the number of Syrians living in besieged areas has more than doubled in the past year to nearly 1 million people.

He accuses the government of isolating, starving, bombing and denying medical attention and humanitarian aid to people in opposition areas "in order to force them to submit or flee."

He says the number of besieged people rose from 393,700 to 974,080 people. Most of the besieged areas are surrounded by government troops.

O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that "it is a deliberate tactic of cruelty to compound a people's suffering for political, military and in some cases economic gain, to destroy and defeat a civilian population who cannot fight back."

He strongly criticized President Bashar Assad's government for its failure to defend all Syrians — even those who oppose him — and for invoking national sovereignty "to bomb its own people."

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2 p.m.

Germany says Russia and Iran are partly responsible for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people besieged by Syrian government forces in Aleppo.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert says the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad wouldn't be able to continue pounding the city without the help of its foreign allies.

Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday that "it's obviously the Russian and Iranian support for the ... Syrian regime which has caused a dramatic worsening of the situation for the population."

He acknowledged that Germany has few options other than to keep raising the issue in public.

Asked whether Germany would consider seeking sanctions against Russia and Iran over their actions in Syria, Seibert said that "all options must remain on the table."

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10:30 a.m.

Turkey's president has called on the United States and other nations to re-assess his country's proposal for the creation of a no-fly zone in northern Syria.

Addressing a NATO parliamentary assembly meeting in Istanbul on Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan again criticized allies' reliance on Syrian Kurdish fighters to battle the Islamic State group. Turkey considers the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters an extension of outlawed Kurdish militants in Turkey.

Although Turkey has repeatedly called for secure zones to protect Syrians, Washington has been unwilling to wade too deeply into the conflict.

Erdogan said: "I hope that in the upcoming process, this will be reassessed especially by the United States and positive steps will be taken so that terrorism's back is broken and Turkey is rid of the threat of terrorism."