Assad could be regarded as war criminal: Hillary

The Secretary of State said that the US is trying to achieve change in Syria without bloodbath.

Last Updated: Feb 29, 2012, 08:50 AM IST

Washington: The Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad
could be regarded as a "war criminal" given the number of
innocent people being killed every day in Syria, the US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told lawmakers.

"I think that based on definitions of war criminal and
crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made
that he would fit into that category," Hillary said in
response to a question at a Congressional hearing yesterday.

While replying to a query by Senator Lindsey Graham about
whether Assad should be viewed by the international community
as a war criminal, she said," I think people have been putting
forth the argument but I also think that from long experience
that can complicate a resolution of a difficult complex
situation because it limits options to persuade leaders,
perhaps, to step down from power".

The Secretary of State said that the US is trying to
achieve change in Syria without bloodbath.

"I would argue that we need to be looking at Syria from
that same prism, that people are literally being slaughtered,
and eventually arms were supplied to the Libyan opposition
with training," Graham said.

The Senator suggested a Libyan model for Syria by helping
the opposition in the country, which has witnessed a bloodbath
after its president initiated crackdown on its own people.
Testifying before another Senate Committee, Clinton said
there is a much more difficult and complicated set of
circumstances in Syria.

"I recently returned from a meeting in Tunis where about
70 countries and organizations were present to try to plot a
way forward on Syria.

The potential of supporting the political transition, the
humanitarian assistance that they need, ratcheting up pressure
-- the EU just adopted more, tougher sanctions yesterday -- is
what we`re all working on, she said.

"Then as you know there`s a big debate about, you know,
whether there is a feasible way of trying to help the people
who are under assault by the Assad regime defend themselves.

So this is at an early stage and there`s a lot of good
work being done, but there`s no plan yet that we can point
to," Hillary said.

PTI