A United Nations panel investigating the conduct of the Syrian military and rebel groups opposed to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has concluded both warring sides are responsible for atrocities committed during the four-year battle for Aleppo.
The conclusions of the report, described by one panel member, Switzerland’s Carla del Ponte, exceed the carnage in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia.
“The scale of what happened in Aleppo is unprecedented in the Syrian conflict. Much of Aleppo, once Syria’s biggest city and its commercial and culture center and a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been reduced to rubble,” said Paulo Pinheiro, lead investigator of the inquiry.
An indictment of both Damascus and opposition groups, the probe concluded Syrian armed forces and groups allied with the Assad government routinely carried out bombing missions against rebel-held positions in Aleppo for five months, killing countless civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure.
The report lambasted Damascus’ “pervasive” use of cluster munitions and its use of toxic chlorine bombs in areas populated with civilians.
Similarly, Pinheiro stated opposition groups were equally culpable. Describing rebel forces’ tactics, the report revealed opposition groups regularly bombarded government-controlled quarters of Aleppo killing scores of innocents and refused to allow inhabitants to flee the city, preferring to use them as human shields.
The report stated civilians in Aleppo frequently faced reprisals, had their homes appropriated and were “intentionally terrorized”.
Damascus’ crime of crimes, however, was its bombing of a UN aid column in September 2016, which was destined for the besieged city.
According to the UN report, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent, an aid organization operating within the International Red Cross, had a warehouse attacked by the Syrian Air Force aircraft killing more than a dozen civilians and one aid worker.
Summarizing Damascus’ attack on the aid column, the UN characterized the destruction of the convoy as the result of “meticulous” planning and “ruthless” execution.
Investigators also revealed no evidence was unearthed to accuse Russia of any specific war crime in Aleppo.
[Reuters] [RT News] [Photo courtesy Dünya Times]