SYRIA – United Nations: Violations constitute war crimes
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, declared that the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo in Syria constitute crimes of historic proportions. He said the relentless bombardment of the ancient city of Aleppo has turned it into a slaughterhouse. Over 300,000 Syrians have been killed and countless others wounded and traumatized in the course of more than five years of civil war.
Although he did not mention Russia by name, the High Commissioner stated the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties were caused by indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo by government forces and their allies.
Al-Hussein declared the violations constituted war crimes and urged that those guilty of international crimes should be held accountable. He called on the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who chairs the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, also agrees all those involved in the conflict who are guilty of crimes must be brought to justice. He said:
“Perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity will only cease to violate the laws of war when it is clear they will be held to account …. This why referral of the conflict in Syria to the ICC (International Criminal Court) or an ad hoc international justice mechanism is critical to resolving this conflict.” Pinheiro added that members of the investigative commission will continue to document war crimes in Aleppo.
Tobias Ellwood, the British minister for Africa and the Middle East, strongly condemned Syria and Russia: “Hospitals have been bombed repeatedly. Hundreds of civilians, many of them children, have been killed since the (Bashar) Assad regime and Russia launched their assault on Eastern Aleppo.”
However, the Syrian representative claimed that Britain’s accusations were baseless and fabricated to enhance the UK’s political agenda. The Russian ambassador accused the UK and its allies of protecting terrorists from destruction and allowing them to regroup so they could continue their acts of terrorism.