US demands Russia be investigated for war crimes

Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks come after the US suspended communication with Russia after the failure of a ceasefire agreement reached a month ago

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The Independent US

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia and Syria must face war crimes investigation for recent attacks on Syrian civilians. 

Mr Kerry’s remarks come after a series of hospital bombings in the war-torn country, including an overnight strike that killed 20 and injured 100 in Damascus. 

“Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals, and medical facilities, and women and children,” Mr Kerry said, speaking alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Washington. 

He added that the actions “beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes”.

“They are beyond the accidental now, way beyond,” Mr Kerry said, accusing Russia and Syria of engaging in a “targeted strategy ... to terrorise civilians”.

Shortly before his appearance with Mr Kerry, Mr Ayrault had spoken with officials in Moscow. He addressed ceasefire efforts by France in Syria, but did not address the advantages it would have over the now collapsed agreement made between the US and Russia last month. 

Earlier this week, the state department announced that the US would suspend communication with Russia after the country broke the 9 September ceasefire agreement brokered by Mr Kerry and his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly,” state department spokesman John Kirby said. “Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments ... and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed.” 

“Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course, inconsistent with the cessation of hostilities,” he said, “as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need, including through the September 19 attack on a humanitarian aid convoy.” 

As Mr Kerry spoke on Friday, Russia’s lower house of parliament unanimously approved a treaty with Syria that would allow Russian troops to remain in the country indefinitely.