‘Key to ISIS fighting - concerted pressure on its funding and sources of arms’
Instead of the illegal bombing of civilians in Syria a more systematic political process is needed in fighting ISIS, including restricting access to its arms sources, which may come from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, British Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told RT.
US-led air strikes have killed more than 50 civilians since the start of the campaign against Islamic State in September 2014. While American officials deny that fact, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the US and its allies should take care to ensure that such casualties are limited, if not avoided entirely.
RT:Washington earlier said that civilian casualties were not a concern in bombing terrorist territory. Is this in line with international law?
Jeremy Corbyn: Well it’s illegal in international law to deliberately target civilians during a war. Israel is under investigation for the bombing of civilian targets in Gaza and if the US is deliberately bombing civilian targets in Syria, then that is also illegal under international law. But aside from the objectivity of international law there is a sort of cold reality that somebody is saying, well 50 civilians dead, we don’t regret it. In fact, there are 865 killed apparently - the other 815 are all fighters. Well they are still human beings, they are still lives, and there is still bitterness that is going to come as result of that. Surely, we need some sort of progress towards creating a scenario where there can be peace within Syria.
It’s regrettable that the Geneva 2 conference hasn’t taken place and we are now faced with this sort of three or four way civil war depending on how many different protagonists you count. Valerie Amos’s report to the UN Security Counselor a couple of days ago indicated that there are probably 12 million people in Syria living in desperate poverty. There are tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and all over the world particularly in Europe…There are refugees from the civilian population in Syria arriving trying to achieve a place of safety. There is a hunger strike going on outside the Greek parliament of Syrian refugees there. It is a desperate situation.
RT:Islamic State continues to hold large parts of Syria and Iraq, reportedly making at least a million dollars a day from selling captured oil on the black market. Why isn't the US bombing these sites to cut off the funding?
JC: Well there could be targeted actions you indicated which would deal with the outflow of oil which is of course the main source of income, but I think we also need to look slightly more deeply. While ISIL didn’t come from nowhere, it didn’t all emerge in a few weeks, it’s been growing for a very long time, and it is very well armed, very well equipped and very well financed. Somewhere along the line that money is been transacted from the world’s banks in its general sense, from the world’s arms industries and much of that equipment one suspects may well have come from a combination of Gulf States and Saudi Arabia who have been the world’s biggest arms buyers particularly from France, Britain and the USA in the past 20 years.
RT:The Syrian government has bombed the symbolic Islamic State capital in the city of Raqqa, reportedly killing dozens of people. Washington and Damascus are fighting the same enemy here - so does that make them any closer to being allies?
JC: The US are hardly going to admit that, but the reality is that they are apparently sharing information about what they are targeting, and I think that might well be an unspoken agreement that there will be a sort of pincer movement against ISIL by both the US forces and the Syrian government forces. But there has to be also a concerted pressure on ISIL funding and sources of arms because that is the key to it all. But there also has to be some sort of appeal to the population living on the ISIL areas, because if they are going to be bombed by Western bombs, if your family is killed by a bomb, you are going to be angry, you are going to be bitter about it. So I am very concerned at this increase in US bombardment of Syria without as I understand any legal basis for doing it, other than the issues faced by ISIL in Iraq, there has to be some nuanced more systematical political process in the whole area.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.