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US actions near Syria's al-Tanf may qualify as 'war crime'— Russian top brass

The Russian reconciliation center emphasizes that the humanitarian situation near al-Tanf remains "extremely critical"
A refugee camp in Syria  AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh
A refugee camp in Syria
© AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/.Actions by the US military and the US-led coalition near al-Tanf may be considered a war crime, where, among others, they refused to assist the refugees, injured in the skirmish near the al-Rukban camp for internally displaced persons, Russia’s Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria told reporters on Friday.

According to the organization, the incident occurred on October 29 near the al-Rukban camp for internally displaced persons near al-Tanf, where, according to the locals, US military advisors were assembling militants from several Syrian districts, and consequently cobbling together another ‘moderate opposition.’

"In the skirmish there, 13 Syrian refugees were killed, another 20, including children, were injured. The US did not offer any medical assistance to the injured refugees. Actually, all those injured are doomed. Such actions of the US military and the so-called international coalition near al-Tanf constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and can be qualified as a war crime," the center said in a statement.

"The US advisors are putting together another "moderate opposition" - the National Syrian Army, which is based on groups from Lions of the East, Kuwat Shahid Ahmad Abdu and Liwa Shuhada al-Karyatein," the center said.

"Noteworthy, the US advisors directly bargain with the militants’ field commanders to negotiate the cost of enrolling every group. As a result, the revenues of the one particular group of militants may lavishly differ," the center said. "This difference was the reason of a major armed confrontation between the militants of the Liwa Suhada al-Karyatein and the Lions of the East, where 13 Syrian refugees were killed and another 20 people - including children - were injured in the skirmish."

Humanitarian situation near al-Tanf

The Russian reconciliation center emphasizes that the humanitarian situation near al-Tanf remains "extremely critical."

"By having organized there its military base and prohibiting anyone from approaching it closer than 55km, the US bears responsibility for the situation, where dozens of Syrian internally displaced persons, staying at the al-Rukban camp nearby, are deprived of a chance to receive humanitarian assistance," the authority said.

"Those Syrian families, which had managed to escape al-Tanf in search for food, confirm the information about the most critical humanitarian situation in al-Rukban."

The Russian military also reiterated the mismanaged situation the refugees are facing at al-Rukban. On October 25, the center said:

"The humanitarian situation in the al-Rukban refugee camp (Homs province, 18 km south of at-Tanf), located in the US-controlled area, is getting worse. Distribution of drugs, agitation and terrorist recruitment still take place in the camp."

The command of US grouping denies international humanitarian missions access to that refugee camp. "At the same time, the American side and illegal armed formations impede the creation of a safe passage for humanitarian cargos to be delivered to the people in the camp," the Russian center said.