US ambassador to UN demands information on Syria detainees

By: AFP      Published: 11:26 PM, 2 Mar, 2021
US ambassador to UN demands information on Syria detainees

The US ambassador to the UN on Tuesday demanded that Syria make the status of detainees public and return any bodies of the dead to their families.

"At least 14,000 Syrians have been reportedly tortured and tens of thousands forcibly disappeared," Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a UN General Assembly debate on human rights.

"We demand that the status of all those detained be made public and we demand that the bodies of the deceased be returned to their loved ones with the time, place and cause of death," Thomas-Greenfield said.

The 193-member body heard testimony from several survivors who demanded that the international community hold Syrian perpetrators of abuse responsible.

Russia, Syria's main ally, has repeatedly used its veto power to protect Damascus from any such measures, however.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "continues to imprison tens of thousands of innocent Syrians, women, children, the elderly, doctors, aid providers, journalists, human rights defenders," Thomas-Greenfield said.

"These innocent civilians are denied fair trials, are subject to torture, sexual violence and inhuman conditions," she added.

She also denounced the closure of humanitarian aid entry points along the Syrian border in 2020, which occurred after agreement with Damascus could not be reached.

Only one entry point, along the border with Turkey, remains open but Russia has hinted that it intends to close it in July when its UN authorization expires.

The closures "prevented vital humanitarian aid by the United Nations," Thomas-Greenfield said. "And it is simply deplorable and it has unnecessarily deepened the suffering of millions of Syrians."

"It is time for us to reach a real political solution," she added. "This is the only way to bring sustainable peace, stability and security to the Syrian people."

Syria's war has killed more than 387,000 people, ravaged key infrastructure and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression on anti-government protests.