Skip to main content

Syrian official slams US-led coalition for violating sovereignty

Meanwhile the EU sanctions 17 Syria ministers and the central bank governor over attacks on civilians
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) giving an interview to Serbian newspaper Politika in Damascus on 3 November 2016 (AFP)

A senior Syrian official slammed the US-led coalition over the violation of the country's national sovereignty, vowing to bring legal battles against states and persons responsible for the bloodshed of the Syrian people.

Minister of Justice Najim al-Ahmed made the remarks at the opening of a symposium jointly organised by the Ministries of Justice, Information and Education in Damascus on Sunday.

The Research Legal International Strategic Symposium focuses on the roles played by the United States, Turkey and France in the Middle East, as well as the responsibility of the UN and the Security Council in the fight against terrorism and towards applying international humanitarian law.

The Syrian government has repeatedly said that all sides involved in the fight against militancy in Syria must respect its sovereignty. However, the US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes in the country since 2014 without any authorisation from Damascus or a UN mandate.

According to reports, coalition air raids have killed more than 300 Syrian civilians and caused extensive damage to infrastructure.

In September, US-led coalition jets bombed Syrian military positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing dozens of government soldiers.

The US Central Command said the attack was a mistake. The Syrian military, however, accused the coalition of supporting the Islamic State militant group.

In his speech at the symposium, al-Ahmed said the Syrian government will hold all militants and their backers, as well as those invading the Syrian territory, accountable.

"We will spare no effort in our legal battles against terrorism and all its backers and sponsors, including the countries and organisations that have been responsible for shedding the blood of the Syrian people," said the minister.

EU sanctions 17 Syria ministers

Meanwhile, the European Union on Monday placed 17 Syrian ministers plus the central bank governor on a sanctions blacklist targeting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad over attacks on civilians.

They face travel bans and asset freezes for "being responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, benefiting from or supporting the regime, and/or being associated with such persons," an EU statement said.

EU leaders agreed at a summit in October to increase sanctions against the Assad regime, citing devastating attacks on Syria's second city of Aleppo, and added 10 top military and  government officials to the list.

But suggestions they might also sanction Russia, which has backed long-time ally Assad's offensives against rebel forces and flown many of the missions against Aleppo, were dropped after sharp differences emerged. 

The decision brings to more than 230 the number of Syrian individuals hit with travel bans or asset freezes, it said.

Another 69 entities are affected by asset freezes while the EU also has in place other sanctions against Syria as a whole, including arms and oil embargoes plus investment restrictions.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.