As an imminent military intervention in Syria by the US and its allies continues to dominate world headlines, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on these trigger-happy nations to exercise extra-care, saying that any armed intervention should be judged by how well it protects all Syrian civilians from further atrocities.
“Military action carried out in the name of upholding a basic humanitarian norm – you don’t gas children in their sleep – will be judged by its effect in protecting all Syrian civilians from further unlawful attacks, whether chemical or conventional,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement published on the organisation’s website.
The New York-based organisation, which says it does not take a position advocating or opposing such intervention, insists nevertheless that if there is a military intervention, all warring parties must strictly adhere to the laws of war.
The laws of war forbid deliberate attacks against civilians – attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, and attacks that cause disproportionate harm to civilians compared to the expected military gain, the rights organisation said.
Roth warned the US and its allies not to use prohibited weapons, such as cluster munitions or antipersonnel landmines.
“The parties must take all feasible precautions to minimise harm to civilians and ensure that civilians are not the objects of attack, and avoid deploying forces in densely populated areas.
“Providing weapons and materiel to national armed forces or non-state armed groups known to commit widespread abuses can make a party complicit in their abuses.”
Roth was referring to France and other Western nations which suggested that weapons and other forms of military aid will be given to Syrian rebels.
However, the talk about the West’s military intervention in Syria seems to have cooled down in the last few days, after UK Parliament rejected any such costly and deadly project, and also after US President Barack Obama said he will have to, first, consult the Congress.
But other countries such as France and Turkey say they are ready and appear to be itching for some action in Syria.
Photo: Syrian rebels attacking government positions. Credit: AP