Speed Reads

Fall of Aleppo

'Are you truly incapable of shame?' U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power blasts Russia, Syria over Aleppo 'evil'

At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday night, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the gathered diplomats he had received "credible reports" of Syrian government forces and allies slaughtering civilians in eastern Aleppo, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by regional militias and Russian air power, are close to capturing the part of the city held by opposition forces since 2012. Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Ja'afari, denied the reports of mass killings but said his government has a "constitutional right" to attack opposition forces, adding, "Aleppo has been liberated from terrorists and those who toyed with terrorism."

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., offered a stinging rebuke, telling "the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran — three member states behind the conquest of and carnage in Aleppo — you bear responsibility for these atrocities." This assault on humanity "will not end with Aleppo, and it will not focus on terrorists — it never has, and there is no evidence that it will," she said, dwelling on the word "terrorist," Assad's label for any opponent. "Clearly, young children — they must be terrorists because everybody being executed, everybody being barrel bombed, everybody who's been chlorine attacked, you're going to be told they are all terrorists — every last one of them, even the infants," she said. Power addressed Russia, Syria, and Iran:

Denying or obfuscating the facts — as you will do today — saying up is down, black is white, will not absolve you. When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo — and that day will come, sooner or later — you will not be able to say you did not know what was happening. You will not be able to say you were not involved. We all know what is happening. And we all know you are involved. Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later....

Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify? [Power, to United Nations]

Russia's ambassador said that Power was acting like "Mother Teresa" when the United States has its own track record. Peter Weber