Recent Attacks on Civilians in Syria

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 24, 2015

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms ISIL’s attacks yesterday on predominantly Assyrian Christian villages in the northeast Syrian province of Hasakeh, where they kidnapped dozens of civilians, including women, children, priests, and the elderly. Hundreds of other civilians remain trapped in villages surrounded by ISIL fighters, and clashes continue between ISIL and local forces defending their communities. ISIL burned and destroyed homes and churches, and the violence has reportedly displaced more than 3,000 people. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive yesterday and of all those held by ISIL.

ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs. ISIL continues to exact its evil upon innocents of all faiths, and the majority of its victims have been Muslims. People of all faiths and many religious leaders throughout the region have united in condemning ISIL’s depravity, including its mass killings, rape, sexual enslavement, lashing, stoning, crucifixion, torture, and public murders of hostages.

Tragically, Syrians are threatened not only by ISIL’s grotesque violence and repressive ideology, but also by the Assad regime’s unrelenting campaign of terror. The regime has recently intensified its airstrikes and barrel bombing of Aleppo and continues to besiege the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta and Douma, cutting off humanitarian aid from those in need. The UN Commission of Inquiry reaffirmed the deteriorating situation last week, noting in its latest report that the Syrian people continue to suffer from the Assad regime’s airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, and murder. Like ISIL, the Assad regime is showing its complete disregard for human life through these crimes.

To bring an end to these daily horrors, we remain committed to leading the international coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL and to working towards a negotiated political solution that stops the bloodshed and secures a future of freedom, justice, and dignity for all Syrians.