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War Crimes Evidence in Syria, SU Law Group has New Report on Government Violence Against Civilians

A project at Syracuse University’s Law School is monitoring potential war crimes in Syria.  The Syrian Accountability Project has a report out on some of the most violent and deadly incidents, allegedly carried out by the government against its own citizens. 

Many of us followed in horror of the chemical attacks leveled at civilians in Syria last month.  But Zach Lucas, Executive Director of the Syrian Accountability Project, has been following such atrocities for months.  The group has a white paper out about finding six types of incidents against innocent civilians.

“From use of chemical weapons, use of barrel bombs, a nasty type of improvised explosive device dropped from helicopters, to indiscriminate shelling general, dragging war planes out every single day and just bombing neighborhoods.  We also found extra=judicial killings, attacks on hospitals and the aid convoys on September 19th (2016).”

They were investigating the siege of Aleppo… and also found another tactic – not allowing civilians a way to leave.

“The way the Syrian government has done it for the past six and-a-half years, the way it’s been carried out has just been awful, to say the least.  There’s no distinguishing between a combatant on the ground and a lawful target, and just a child, for instance that’s just in their neighborhood trying to play.”


Lucas says their work can show investigators where to look for evidence and witnesses in preparation for a war crimes trial against Syrian Leader Bashar Al-Assad and others.  S-U Law Professor and project leader David Crane is  confident justice will be served…if not so optimistic about the country’s future.

“We’ll get Assad eventually; there’ll be a knock at his door someday.  But the area around Syria, known as the Levant, it’s destroyed.  It will take a generation.  It is now a part of the world the U.N. is only going to be able to manage.  At this point it’s almost ungovernable.”

SU Law Professor David Crane explains the scope of the war crimes evidence white paper, a possible war crimes tribunal, and the future of the country embroiled in civil war.

Crane wants the findings of the Syrian Accountability Project out to shed light on what he calls the horror of the situation there. 

“Urge your congress to be aware of Syria, to talk about Syria, to read about Syria, but also to urge the administration to continue a dialogue, try to make a peace in Syria.   But also, if Syria goes off the reservation by using chemical weapons again, that we will punch them in the nose and that we will use cruise missiles.  So that will make them hesitate the next time they do it.”

Crane and Lucas say a United Nations Office has been set up to investigate war crimes in Syria.  Crane adds going after of Assad could mirror the case of Charles Taylor of Liberia, whom Crane successfully prosecutedand is now in prison on Great Britain. 

The entire White paper, released April 27th, 2017, can be found here.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.