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France seeks ICC options for Aleppo war crimes investigation

[JURIST] French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault [official profile] stated [radio broadcast recording] Monday that France intends to pursue avenues for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to initiate an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by Syrian and Russian forces in Aleppo. Syria is not a member of the ICC, so initiating an investigation may be difficult. "We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," Ayrault stated. He also stated that France would consider [Reuters report] a UN Security Council resolution, and utilizing jurisdictional rules, to urge the ICC to proceed with an investigation.

The conflict in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] has continued for five years in a civil war surrounding the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad. For much of that time attacks have taken place on humanitarian convoys, medical facilities, and other forms of critical civilian aid. Earlier this week US Secretary of State John Kerry called for [JURIST report] an investigation into the alleged war crimes of Russia and Syria in Aleppo. In September the EU called attacks in Aleppo a "breach of international humanitarian law" [JURIST report], denouncing the targeting of a humanitarian convoy hit by an airstrike the week prior. That same month the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria urged parties in the Syrian conflict to return to the "negotiation table" after a new report highlighted an increase of violence suffered by civilians [JURIST report]. The report noted that along with summary executions, forced displacement, and indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes the Syrian people lack sufficient access to life-saving medical services.

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