Syria boycotted a hearing at the United Nations’ top court on Tuesday where the Netherlands and Canada accused Damascus of a years-long campaign of “institutionalized” torture against its own people. At the same time, at least 17 children are reported to have been killed, and hundreds of others injured, in five days of violence across Syria.
Canada and the Netherlands take Syria to top UN court. They accuse Damascus of widespread torture
Syria boycotted a hearing at the United Nations’ top court on Tuesday where the Netherlands and Canada accused Damascus of a years-long campaign of “institutionalized” torture against its own people, AP reported.
The hearing was focused on a preliminary Dutch and Canadian request for the court to impose orders — known as provisional measures — on Syria to halt torture immediately to protect potential victims while their case accusing Damascus of breaching the torture convention proceeds through the International Court of Justice.
“Every day counts,” said Dutch government lawyer René Lefeber.
“The persistent and recurring practice of torture in Syria only serves to underscore the pressing need for the court to indicate provisional measures to manifest threats to life and bodily and psychological integrity,” Lefeber said.
Syrian student officers carry the coffins of their comrades who were killed on Thursday in a drone attack that hit a military graduation ceremony, during a mass funeral procession in Homs, Syria, Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. Family members of some of the victims of deadly drone attacks on a crowded military graduation that killed scores gathered outside a military hospital in this central city Friday to collect the bodies of their loved ones who lost their lives in one of Syria’s deadliest single attacks in years. (AP Photo/Abdelrahman Shaheen)
Canadian government lawyer Teresa Crockett underscored the request’s urgency, saying that “Syria has systematically committed torture and subjected its population to other ill-treatment on a massive scale. Since 2011, tens of thousands of have died while in Syrian custody.”
“If left unchecked, Syria will continue its violations,” she added.
The head of Canada’s legal team, Alan Kessel, told judges that “Syria’s decision not to participate in today’s proceedings does not shield it from the court’s directives.”
“We have given Syria an opportunity to be here today. They chose, regrettably, to be absent,” Kessel told reporters outside the court. “This doesn’t mean that the world is absent.”
Both Canada and the Netherlands “are of the view that the Assad government must respond and stop the torture that is rampant in that country,” he added.
The US will likely ‘go to war’ in Israel with air and naval power if Syria or Iran become actively involved, retired 4-star general says
The US is likely to directly intervene with air and naval strikes if Israel’s existence is threatened, Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey said.
Speaking on Sunday on MSNBC’s “Weekends With Alex Witt,” the retired four-star US Army general said such an escalation would likely occur only if Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbors became heavily involved.
“The other shoe we’re waiting to see if it drops is, will Hezbollah intervene out of Lebanon with their 100,000 some odd rockets? Will the West Bank ignite? And what will the Syrians and the Egyptians do?” McCaffrey said.
“I would suggest to you our support of Israel will be absolute, and if we see Syrian military intervention, active Iranian military intervention, we’ll go to war,” McCaffrey added.
McCaffrey added that this was his own assessment of the conflict and that there “is absolutely no way” that any US official would concur publicly that America could go to war in Israel.
“What I am saying is that if the existence of the state of Israel is at stake, if the Syrian military intervene, if Hezbollah started overwhelming the Israelis, in my judgment, at that point, we would consider actively intervening with air power and naval power,” he said.
It’s unlikely that the US would send troops into Israel, given the Israel Defense Forces’ ground capabilities, McCaffrey added.
When asked whether other US and Israel allies would also step in, McCaffrey said it was too early to discuss such a question with just Hamas directly involved.
“I think the deterrence factor is what the Biden administration is after right now. They want to make sure that the Syrian military and Hezbollah don’t enter this fray,” he said. “If they do, it’s going to be a lethal threat to the existence of Israel.”
Turkey’s Erdogan says ‘first phase’ of Syria operation has concluded
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the completion of the first phase of Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria and northern Iraq.
Erdogan expressed dissatisfaction with the United States for downing a Turkish drone during the operation and warned that the incident would be remembered. The operations primarily targeted Kurdish militant groups and their facilities, destroying 194 targets in total. The Turkish Defense Ministry reported 51 targets struck in northern Syria since the operation’s launch on October 5, including bunkers, caves, and oil facilities.
While Turkey claimed to target terrorists and their income sources, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of damaging civilian infrastructure, including power stations, hospitals, and schools. Turkey’s offensive aimed to establish a 30-kilometre buffer zone along its border to clear Kurdish groups.
The operation was triggered by a suicide bombing attack in Ankara, with Turkey linking the SDF to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and pressuring the US to end its alliance with the SDF. Tensions escalated when US forces shot down a Turkish drone near a US military base. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US, and the EU.
At Least 17 Children Killed in Wave of Violence Across Syria
At least 17 children are reported to have been killed, and hundreds of others injured, in five days of violence across Syria, said Save the Children.
Schools across Northwest Syria have been closed indefinitely, with at least ten schools either partially or fully damaged in the fighting. An estimated 25,000 people have been newly displaced, with families and children once again being forced to flee their homes in fear.
In Northeast Syria, a series of at least 56 drone strikes over recent days has crippled water and electricity supplies for hundreds of thousands of people and left children deeply afraid. Several parents told Save the Children staff their children were showing signs of deep emotional distress after the attacks.
Farida (not her real name), a 32-year-old mother of three children living in Tarbaspi city, Northeast Syria, told Save the Children; “My children are really scared. They can’t sleep at night and have started wetting the bed…My children are terrified at night, and today I didn’t send them to school. We’re scared that we might have to leave our home, especially with winter coming. I’m just a mum, trying my best to keep my children safe and warm.”
While hostilities have reportedly reduced over the last 24 hours, Save the Children is warning that continued conflict will only continue to risk children’s lives and wellbeing, with widespread school closures threatening the education and futures of thousands of children.
Rasha Muhrez, Save the Children’s Syria Response Director said:
“Children continue to pay the heaviest price in this conflict. Reports of children being killed and injured across Syria are unacceptable. To continue enduring violence and loss of loved ones, will have a lasting impact on their mental health and well-being. These children have been born and have grown up in the shadow of more than 12 years of conflict and crises, survived devastating earthquakes earlier this year and now, once again, live in fear. Their futures are again under threat.
SDF claims killing 4 Turkish soldiers, injuring 5 in northern Hassakeh
North Press reports that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Tuesday the killing of four Turkish soldiers and injuring of five others in the countryside of the town of Zirgan (Abu Rasin), in northern Hassakeh, northeastern Syria.
Between October 5 and late October 9, Turkish forces targeted 209 sites in northern and northeastern Syria, including military posts, residential areas, and infrastructure facilities.
The SDF Media Center said in a statement that within the right of self-defence, the SDF targeted with more than 28 mortar shells the Turkish forces’ posts in the villages of Umm Shuaifa, Bab al-Faraj, Tel Muhammad, al-Dawoodiya, and Abdul Hai in the countryside of the Zirgan, killing four Turkish soldiers and injuring five others.
The SDF added that its forces have killed 15 Turkish soldiers and wounded 13 others “since the beginning of our legitimate retaliation operations recently.”
The SDF denied Turkey’s claims of killing 162 SDF fighters and destroying 194 military posts, calling them “lies and false information.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.