After damning remarks on Ukraine atrocities, Biden urged to recognise 'Syria genocide'

After damning remarks on Ukraine atrocities, Biden urged to recognise 'Syria genocide'
US President Joe Biden has been urged to recognise the killings of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria as a 'genocide' after he used this term to describe massacres in Ukraine.
3 min read
14 April, 2022
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to 'wipe out the idea' of a Ukrainian identity [source: Getty]

The US should recognise the Syrian "genocide”, social media users said on Wednesday, after President Joe Biden used the term in relation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Biden first accused Vladimir Putin’s forces of committing genocide in Ukraine on Tuesday, following widespread reports of atrocities against civilians in towns such as Bucha

Syrians have now called on the US leader to also use the term to describe the indiscriminate targeting of civilians by the Syrian regime and Russian military alliance during the 11-year conflict, which began with the brutal suppression of peaceful pro-democracy protests. 

"I don’t understand why this wasn’t the case for #Syria. If the issue is wiping out part of a population then why wouldn’t #Assad/#Iran #Russia efforts to wipe out Sunni Muslim population…count?" said Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat, on Twitter. 

Dr Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian American doctor, said on Twitter: "The US should recognise what happened in Syria by Assad, Iran and Russia as Genocide." 

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Bashar Al-Assad’s regime has been accused of repeatedly targeting pro-opposition areas, which are predominantly Sunni, to cleanse them of their local civilian population. 

This includes Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold, where repeated regime bombardments have killed thousands and forced a million to flee their home according to Human Rights Watch. 

The Syrian conflict has led to the deaths of over 500,000 people and half the country's population being made homeless since 2011. The Assad regime has used indiscriminate barrel bombs and chemical weapons to target opposition-held areas.

The UN said this week that it had recorded 1,842 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on 24 February, although it acknowleged the real figure could be much higher.

Biden said that while lawyers will "decide internationally whether or not [the situation in Ukraine] qualifies…it sure seems that way to me". 

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price declined to comment the following day on whether Biden’s remarks reflected the overall position of the US government. Price said the president “was speaking to the impression he had garnered from watching the horrific footage that we’ve all seen” from Ukraine.  

Genocide, considered the most serious international offence, was first used to describe the Nazi Holocaust. 

It is defined by the UN as "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" through executions, serious bodily or mental harm, inflicting a group to conditions that bring about its physical destruction, imposing measures intended to prevent births and/or forcibly transferring children.

China has recently been accused by the US and other Western nations of launching a genocide against the Uyghur Muslim-minority.