POLITICS

Corbyn Spokesman: Focus On Russian Bombing In Syria 'Diverts' Attention From 'American Atrocities'

Husband of late Jo Cox outraged at remarks

12/10/2016 13:57 | Updated 12 October 2016
Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

Focus on Russian bombing in Syria “diverts” attention away from atrocities by the US-led coalition in the country, Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has declared.

The senior member of the Labour leader’s team also pointed out that the public were as free to protest outside the American embassy in London as much as its Russian counterpart.

The remarks follow calls from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for a mass demonstration directed at the Moscow regime’s embassy in Kensington.

The Labour spokesman said that both Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry believed that it was preferable to hold talks ‘within’ the Russian embassy rather than protest outside it.

He went on to say that there was too much focus on Russian bombing of civilians, following the outcry over the strikes on hospitals in Aleppo and on a UN convoy delivering aid.

“The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities I think sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place,” said Corbyn’s aide.

But his comments sparked a swift backlash from the husband of the late Jo Cox, the Labour MP who campaigned to end the suffering of the Syrian people.

No.10 also hit out, pointing out that the US and UK sought to ‘minimise civilian casualties’.

The Labour spokesman said that both Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry believed that it was preferable to hold talks ‘within’ the Russian embassy rather than protest outside it.

He went on to say that there was too much focus on Russian bombing of civilians, following the outcry over the strikes on hospitals in Aleppo and on a UN convoy delivering aid.

Anti-war activists point out that US airstrikes on a Syrian village in July allegedly killed at least 73 civilians, a majority of them women and children.

“The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities I think sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place,” said Corbyn’s aide.

“Independent assessments are that there have been very large scale civilian casualties as a result of the US-led coalition bombing. There are several cases of large numbers of civilian deaths in single attacks.

“And there hasn’t been as so much attention on those atrocities or those casualties. And both the United States and British Governments have been reluctant to accept any independent assessment of what’s taken place as a result of those campaigns.”

Matt Dunham/AP
Stop The War protestors

The senior Labour spokesman added that calls for a mass demonstration against Russia, first sparked by Labour MP Ann Clwyd in a Commons debate on Tuesday, may be misplaced.

“Emily Thornberry said yesterday the priority should be holding talks inside the Russian embassy rather than demonstrations outside.

“People are entitled and at complete liberty to demonstrate outside not only the Russian embassy but but all the other embassies of those participating, intervening powers.

Manu Brabo/AP
Aleppo under attack

“People are free to protest outside the intervening powers’ embassies, and there a number of them, not just the US and Russia.

“If we are seriously talking about ending that conflict or reducing the suffering it has to be about bringing together those intervening powers.”

Johnson taunted the ‘Stop the War’ coalition on Tuesday, wondering if they would join in a march on the Russian embassy.

Asked if the demo plan was government policy, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that both Theresa May and Johnson wanted to “increase pressure on the Russians for their actions”.

“There is a range of ways in which we can do it,” the spokesman said.

PA/PA Wire
Boris Johnson

Today, Stop the War’s deputy spokesman Chris Nineham said there was a “hysteria” about Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria which smacked of “jingoism”.

The senior Labour aide, speaking after Prime Minister’s Question time, pointed out “Stop the War has also condemned the Russian intervention” and Corbyn had too.

“He has condemned the Russian intervention and the Russian bombing - as he has opposed the intervention by all outside powers in the Syrian civil war.”

 

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