Western powers call for Assad to be held responsible for atrocities

About 500,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday.  EPA
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The US, the UK, France and Germany have called for the Assad regime to be held responsible for atrocities against Syrians, jointly marking the 12th anniversary of the uprising.

The four countries said they would neither normalise relations with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's government nor fund the country's reconstruction “until there is authentic and enduring progress towards a political solution”.

In 2011, Syria was gripped by protests as part of the Arab uprisings in the region.

About 500,000 Syrians have been killed since then.

Amid widespread suffering and the displacement of millions, another 10,000 people died in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck in early February.

“We remain committed to supporting Syrian civil society and ending the human rights violations and abuses the Syrian people have suffered — from the Assad regime and others — long before the earthquakes struck,” the four countries said.

“The international community must work together to hold the Assad regime and all perpetrators of abuses, violations and atrocities accountable.

“The ongoing conflict has created a permissive environment for terrorists and drug traffickers to exploit, further threatening regional stability.”

The call came a day after Mr Al Assad travelled to Moscow to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoping to ease strains between the Syrian leader and neighbouring Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has sent Turkish troops into northern Syria.

Of the country’s prewar population of 23 million, more than 6.7 million people remain internally displaced with many living in camps, according to the UN.

Updated: March 17, 2023, 6:59 AM