German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused Assad regime troops of committing “crimes against humanity” that could not be overlooked, while UN spokesperson said all parts are committing war crimes in Syria.
Human rights groups and Western countries have previously accused Syria’s army, backed by Russia’s air force, of targeting hospitals, bakeries and other civilian areas when bombarding rebel areas, including eastern Aleppo.
Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on September 22 it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on 19 September.
There are about 275,000 people trapped by the siege of eastern Aleppo, where civilians are suffering through daily bombing, including by bunker-buster and incendiary weapons, and through starvation, as limited supplies run out and aid convoys are blocked from the city.
“The use of barrel bombs and incendiary bombs, and even chemical weapons, is not being shied away from,” Merkel said as she received the Seoul Peace Prize in Berlin.
“The civilian population is being starved, medical institutes are being attacked, doctors are dying and hospitals are being destroyed,” she said, adding that not even United Nations aid convoys were safe from bombardment.
“These are serious crimes against humanity. We mustn’t overlook that,” Merkel said.
Merkel urged Russia previously to use its influence with the Syrian government to end the devastating bombardment of Aleppo
“Russia has a lot of influence on Assad. We must end these atrocious crimes,” Merkel said on 7 October
Merkel expressed skepticism about the possibilities of establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria and said that more efforts to reach a ceasefire were needed.
Sanctions against Russia for its role in backing Assad regime and attacking Syrian civilians were under discussion too, according to German politicians.
all sides are committing war crimes
On Tuesday, a U.N. human rights spokeswoman said all sides fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas.
“All parties in Aleppo are conducting hostilities that are resulting in large numbers of civilian casualties and creating an atmosphere of terror for those who continue to live in the city,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
“The reported use of ground-based missiles, along with the use of armed vehicles loaded with explosives, used in an area containing more than 1 million civilian inhabitants, is completely unacceptable and may constitute a war crime,” Shamdasani said.
The high number of civilian casualties suggested the rebels were ignoring the “fundamental prohibition” on indiscriminate attacks and the principles of precaution and proportionality, she added.
The U.N. did not have detailed enough information to attribute the attacks to specific groups, she said.
Government forces and their allies were also continuing to shell opposition-held eastern Aleppo, and the U.N. had documented at least 12 civilian casualties, including two children, on Saturday and Sunday, she said.
“Strikes against hospitals, schools, market places, water facilities, and bakeries are now commonplace and if proven to be intentional may amount to war crimes.”
The war crimes were made by whom?
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has released a report called: “Detailed Account of the Russian-Syrian Attacks on the Neighborhoods of Eastern Aleppo after 25 Days of the Second Cessation of Hostilities Statement”.
SNHR team documented from the end of the Cessation of Hostilities statement on Monday 19 September 2016 to Friday 14 October 2016 the following main violations:
First: Massacres and other acts of extrajudicial killing: 361 civilians were killed including 96 children and 55 women. The death toll is distributed by the influential party as follows:
- Russian forces: 287 civilians including 82 children and 46 women.
- Government forces: 74 civilians including 14 children and nine women
Russian forces perpetrated 13 massacres while three massacres were perpetrated by government forces
Second: Targeting of vital civil facilities: We recorded no less than 26 incidents of attack on vital civil facilities that are distributed by the influential party as follows:
- Russian forces: 22
- Government forces: four
Third: Unlawful attacks:
- Russian forces: we recorded six attacks that involved the use of incendiary weapons.
- Government forces: we recorded no less than 151 barrel bombs.
The Russian and Syrian regimes have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, they violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
Russia launched an air campaign on September 30 last year in support of Syrian government forces, in a military intervention that has been widely credited with helping turn the balance of power in favour of President Bashar al-Assad.
Since then, at least 9,364 people have been killed in Russian raids, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.