Hands Off Syria strongly condemns the massacre of 62 Syrian soldiers by Australian Defence Forces.

Australia’s military has admitted involvement in the US-led bombing raids in Deir eZorr, Syria, which killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and wounded 100 others. The soldiers were engaged in defending their country from the ISIS terrorist group.

Whether the massacre was ‘accidental’ or deliberate should be determined by an independent war crimes tribunal. Assertion by the perpetrators ‘sorry, we didn’t mean it’, is completely inadequate. Further, there are many circumstances which suggest the attack was deliberate.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop must explain two things:

– on what legal basis have any Australian armed forces engaged in bombings on Syrian territory, without an invitation from or coordination with the Syrian Government?

– will the Australian Government hand over to the Syrian authorities or the International Court of Justice those Australians who were accomplices in this atrocity?

– to what extent does the USA share intelligence with Australian Defence Forces, when it asks Australian personnel to become involved in assassinations and bombings?

The Deir eZorr massacre of 17 September 2016 is material for an independent war crimes trial, and these are some of the initial questions Australian officials would have to answer.

The anonymous Defence statement (see below) is insulting in its trivialisation of the first major war crime co-authored by Australian forces in Syria.

Hands Off Syria
18 September 2016

The Australian Defence Department is reported as saying:
“Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation … Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS). Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident … While Syria remains a dynamic and complex operating environment, Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (also known as ISIL).”