Civilian Massacres in Syria

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 12, 2013

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent massacres of Syrian civilians in the Qalamoun region and elsewhere. Scores of civilians, many of them children, have again fallen victim to brutal violence, and we are outraged at the alarming reports, including reports of invasive house raids, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings. We also note and condemn the latest report of a massacre of civilians in Adra.

As we strongly condemn these atrocities against the civilian population, we also reinforce our solidarity with the Syrian people. This violence is a stark reminder that civilians bear the greatest sacrifice in their fight for a free Syria. Direct attacks on civilians not taking part in hostilities breach the most basic principles of dignity and freedom from oppression that have characterized the Syrian people’s struggle.

We have long said that those responsible for perpetrating atrocities in Syria – especially the latest vicious violence against innocent civilians – must be held accountable. Toward this end, we continue to work with Syrian activists and civil society to develop a sound understanding of different transitional justice tools and discuss future transitional justice processes, such as a tribunal. We are also supporting international and Syrian documentation efforts, including efforts to train Syrian investigators. These efforts are critical in building an evidence base that will contribute to ensuring the justice and accountability that the Syrian people, especially victims, deserve. We remain committed to help ensure those responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.

It is particularly troubling to us that these atrocities have been committed in many areas where the regime has denied humanitarian access to suffering Syrians. The severe winter storm and cold conditions are only adding to the hardships faced by those in need. We reiterate our calls for the Syrian Government and other parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access to all those in need and to work to end the needless suffering of the Syrian people.

PRN: 2013/1572