US Accuses Syrian Regime and Allies—Russia and Iran—of Refining ‘Playbook of Death’

U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Nikki Haley. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Mission to the UN

The United States last week at the United Nations warned another regime-led offensive in Syria—this time against the province of Idlib—would “create generations of Syrians who will never forget” the brutality of the Syrian regime, and it’s not just the Syrians who are to blame. Russia and Iran also were slammed by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for being President Bashar al-Assad’s “enablers” in the atrocities in Syria.

Last Friday, Haley accused Assad and his allies of a “playbook” that involves surrounding a civilian area, making the “preposterous claim” that everyone there is a “terrorist” and then launching attacks “until the people no longer have food, clean water, or shelter.” Next on the attack list is Idlib, which Haley noted has 3 million people at risk in it, which she said are “99 percent innocent civilians.”

“It’s a playbook of death. The Assad regime has spent the last seven years refining it with Russia and Iran’s help,” said Haley in comments to the UN Security Council that were posted to the US Mission to the UN’s website. She further warned that it’s not just the Syrian people who would take note of the viciousness of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran. The Americans would too., while separately Israel has also expressed concern over Iran’s military presence in Syria.

“Despite the clear warnings of the President of the United States and other world leaders, airstrikes by Russia and the regime have already begun against civilian areas,” said Haley. “The United States has been very clear, with Russia and with the broader international community: we consider any assault on Idlib to be a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Syria. If Assad, Russia, and Iran continue, the consequences will be dire.”

And it’s not just Iran’s participation in war crimes in Syria that are cause for alarm. Haley’s comments follow repeated warnings by the Israelis that the Iranians seek to build a permanent base in Syria and that Israel would do what it takes to prevent that from happening. Just last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted by his office as reiterating this commitment to the Israeli cabinet.

“Israel is determined to prevent Iran and its proxies from establishing a military presence in Syria,” said Netanyahu on September 5. “We are taking strong action against these attempts and against the attempts to produce precision weaponry in all sectors, near and far. We will continue to take such action on behalf of the security of Israel.”

On Friday, Haley said Iran’s influence could be used for good instead. “The Assad regime must halt its offensive [in Idlib],” said the US diplomat. “Russia and Iran, as countries with influence over the regime, must stop this catastrophe. It is in their power to do so.”

Haley said there were effective ways to target terrorists in Idlib without a humanitarian calamity. “But when Russia and the Assad regime say they want to counter terrorism, they actually mean they want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes,” she said. “They want to punish the civilians who had the courage to rise up against Assad.”

The US Ambassador again called for a political solution to the conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. “An offensive in Idlib will only leave Syria weaker and more broken and create generations of Syrians who will never forget the heinous and senseless brutality of the Assad regime and its allies,” said Haley.

“We urge Russia to consider its options carefully. Stop Assad’s assault on Idlib. Work with us, with the UN and international partners, to find peace at last for Syria.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 9, 2018)


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