National security adviser H.R. McMaster declared Thursday that the U.S. needs to further crackdown on Russia and Iran.
“It is time to impose serious political and economic consequences on Moscow and Tehran,” McMaster announced in a speech given at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for a program highlighting the horrors of the crisis in Syria.
He added that “we must protect victims and hold all responsible parties accountable.”
McMaster was blunt about the extent of the crimes committed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime:
Unfortunately, today in Syria we are confronted with some of the worst atrocities known to man. The war has now raged for seven years. The Assad regime has killed indiscriminately. Tortured, starved, raped, and used chemical weapons on its own people. It has attacked hospitals and schools and countless Syrians have been arrested, abducted, or simply disappeared.
On Thursday, at least 10,000 Syrians have been forced to flee from their homes as the Syrian regime’s forces gain ground against the rebels in Eastern Ghouta. Some 511,000 people are estimated to have died in the seven-year war, 85 percent of which have been civilians who died at the hand of Assad’s regime. Assad has repeatedly been accused of using chemical weapons on his own people in an effort to solidify his rule.
After detailing the work that the U.S. has done to offer humanitarian aid, fight the Islamic State, and fund international investigations into the Assad regime’s atrocities, McMaster turned his attention to Russia and Iran.
“Unfortunately, many of these life-saving efforts to resolve the conflict, to defeat ISIS, to deliver humanitarian aid, and to deter chemical weapons attacks are impeded by the Assad regime’s sponsors in Tehran and in Moscow," he said. "All civilized nations must hold Iran and Russia accountable for their role in enabling atrocities and perpetuating human suffering in Syria.”
McMaster said that Russia was “also complicit in Assad’s atrocities,” adding that “the Russian government has bombed civilian areas and provided political cover for Assad’s crimes.”
McMaster’s statements come the same day that the Trump administration announced that it will slap sanctions on Russia over 2016 election meddling, and as President Donald Trump joined the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in demanding that Russia cooperate with the investigation into the use of a Russian-made nerve agent on British soil.