AP NEWS

Editorial: Triumph of evil in Syria

February 12, 2017 GMT

“Is there no execution of a child that gets under your skin? Is there literally nothing that shames you?” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Samantha Power, asked at the U.N. in December.

Her question was directed at Syria and its backers Russia and Iran, and concerned the ferociously brutal recapture of the city of Aleppo by government forces in Syria’s civil war. There was no answer.

It turns out the brutality of the Syrian government exceeded anything Ambassador Power, or any of the rest of us, had thought of.

Amnesty International charges in a new report that the Syrian military deliberately put to death about 13,000 people, most of them civilians, from 2011 through 2015. The number does not include an estimated 17,000 who died from the appalling conditions in Syria’s prisons. The report said the executions — which the government of Syria denies — could still be taking place.

The hangings were carried out at Saydnaya Prison near Damascus, in groups of about 50 once or twice a week who were collected from their cells at night on the pretext that they were being moved. Those selected were blindfolded, given a “trial,” without counsel, of at most three minutes and led to the hangman not knowing what was in store until they felt the noose around their necks.

These are not casualties of war or collateral damage or any such thing. These are straight-out sadistic murders.

Amnesty International said it interviewed 84 witnesses, including former guards, other officials and military judges.

The combatants are now in peace talks, the next session scheduled for Geneva sometime in late February under the sponsorship of Russia and Turkey. Don’t expect results or progress.

The “What Red Line?” policy of the Obama administration toward Syria reminds us of the observation attributed to philosopher Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”