Russia and Syria committed war crimes in Aleppo: HRW


Syrians evacuate an injured man amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Al-Qatarji, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. File photo: AFP

ARA News

Aleppo – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Russian and Syrian militaries of committing war crimes in Aleppo city. The NGO contends that the militaries’ bombardment of opposition-held districts was disproportionate and indiscriminate.

During a month-long bombing campaign, Syrian military forces surrounded the war-ravaged eastern part of Aleppo city. While Syrian and Russian officials declared that civilians and fighters could leave through designated corridors, very few did.

Between September and October, the Syrian Violations Documentation Center, recorded 440 civilian fatalities in eastern Aleppo, including nearly 90 children. President al-Assad’s Government and the armed opposition have blamed each other for the civilian casualties.

“Whatever the reason, the Russian-Syrian coalition should have taken precautionary measures to avoid and minimize civilian casualties when attacking armed opposition groups,” Human Rights Watch said.

According to HRW, the airstrikes often appeared to be recklessly indiscriminate, deliberately targeting medical facilities. The bombardment also reportedly included the use of desultory weapons, such as cluster munitions and incendiary weapons.

Satellite imagery that Human Rights Watch analyzed depicted more than 950 new impact sites consistent with the detonation of high-yield explosives.

“Using that amount of firepower in an urban area with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of civilians predictably killed hundreds of civilians,” said Ole Solvang, Deputy Emergencies Director at HRW.

“Those who ordered and carried out unlawful attacks should be tried for war crimes,” Solvang stressed.

HRW has also documented rebel attacks against civilian structures in government-controlled western Aleppo. The organization condemned the attacks, saying that “reckless attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including hospitals, committed with criminal intent are war crimes.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on September 28, that those using indiscriminate munitions in Aleppo city “know that they are committing war crimes.”

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