Ken Roth in the Washington Post:
As the World Cup begins next week in Russia, 2.3 million civilians in Syria’s Idlib province are facing an endgame of their own. The two events are linked because the Russian government could play a central role in avoiding mass atrocities in Syria but so far has played the role of accomplice.
World leaders should avoid the spectacle of celebrating the World Cup’s opening alongside the Kremlin leadership unless it stops the slaughter of civilians in Syria. The opening ceremony will be marked with pomp and fireworks on June 14.
The Syrian conflict has been characterized by the government’s deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian institutions such as hospitals and schools in areas controlled by anti-government forces, and its indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods in those areas, in flagrant violation of the laws governing armed conflict. This war-crime strategy is a major reason that the conflict has killed almost half a million people and has displaced some 60 percent of Syria’s prewar population, roughly half within the country and half as refugees.