Today in Syria, "we are confronted once more with some of the worst atrocities known to man," said National Security Council Advisor Lieutenant General HR McMaster in a speech at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
For seven years now, the Bashar al-Assad regime has killed indiscriminately, tortured, starved, raped, and used chemical weapons on its own people. It has attacked hospitals and schools, and countless Syrians have been arrested, abducted, or have simply disappeared.
At the same time, ISIS has kidnapped, tortured, murdered, brutally persecuted religious minorities, and committed unspeakable horrors.
It is estimated that nearly 500,000 people have perished since the war began. In February alone, nearly 1,400 civilians have died. The conflict has created over 5 million refugees and over 6 million displaced persons.
The United States is taking action to protect innocent Syrians, defeat ISIS, and hold the Assad regime accountable for its crimes.
First of all the U.S. is helping to fund the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism created by the United Nations General Assembly. It is tasked with collecting evidence of crimes committed in Syria – particulartly international humanitarian law violations and crimes against humanity and preparing this evidence for potential independent criminal proceedings on Syria.
Second, the U.S. is fighting alongside partners, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces, to defeat terrorist organizations. The Coalition to Defeat ISIS has now liberated almost 100 percent of territory previously held by these terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
The United States will continue to pursue these murderers until ISIS is completely defeated.
Third, the U.S. is providing humanitarian aid - over 7.6 billion dollars - to assist Syrians both in and outside of Syria.
Finally, the U.S. is working to protect innocent civilians from chemical attack and to hold Assad accountable for using these heinous weapons. Following Assad’s April 4, 2017, sarin attack on innocents, President Donald Trump launched a powerful missile strike on the Syrian air base from which the chemical attack originated, destroying twenty percent of the Syrian Air Force.
The U.S. along with its allies and partners will continue to expose atrocities, defeat ISIS, provide humanitarian assistance, and deter chemical weapons attacks. Assad must and will be held to account.