Beijing, China | Xinhua | A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Thursday said the United States should conduct a credible, independent and impartial investigation into civilian casualties caused by U.S. air strikes, and hold those concerned accountable.
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a daily news briefing, saying that this is a clear call from the international community that the U.S. should respond to in earnest.
“Every human life, regardless of nationality, race, religion or values, is equal and precious,” Zhao said.
According to media reports, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reiterated the call for the United States and all relevant parties to conduct credible, independent and impartial investigations into air strikes that resulted in civilian casualties and to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
Zhao said that five years ago, U.S. forces, using fake intelligence gleaned from a video staged by “White Helmets” as evidence, conducted the “most precise air strikes in history” in Syria, killing more than 1,600 innocent civilians.
“In recent years, the international community has been calling for investigations into the deaths of civilians in U.S. overseas military operations,” Zhao said.
Concerning Syria alone, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic noted several times in its reports in September 2019 and February 2021 that the U.S. failed to distinguish military targets from civilians in its air strikes in Syria, which gravely violates international humanitarian law and potentially constitutes war crimes.
“However, the U.S. government has been turning a deaf ear to all of this,” Zhao said.
It has been reported that over almost two decades, the United States has conducted over 90,000 air strikes in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which have killed up to 48,000 civilians. But the U.S. military has time and again covered up the facts and refused to apologize, admit its crimes or hold the perpetrators accountable. “It has done everything possible to evade its responsibilities,” Zhao said.
Concerning a drone strike on civilians in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesperson said openly in December 2021 that no U.S. soldiers would face disciplinary action.
“The U.S. media also disclosed at the end of last year that from 2014 to 2019, the U.S. military turned its guns on farmers in the middle of their harvest, on children playing in the streets, on families fleeing the fighting, and on villagers taking shelter in buildings,” Zhao said, noting that these devastating crimes were deliberately concealed and whitewashed.
The spokesperson also quoted Larry Lewis, a director at the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses, as saying that at least one incident of civilian harm has occurred every week on average since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“There has been an overall pattern of negligence from the U.S. government on the issue of civilian harm,” Zhao said. The United States has also obstructed the International Criminal Court’s investigations into its war crimes in Afghanistan.
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