HRW: Russia and Syria have commited war crimes in Aleppo

HRW: Russia and Syria have commited war crimes in Aleppo

The Russian/Syrian coalition committed war crimes in Aleppo during September and October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] Thursday. HRW alleges that the bombings constitute war crimes, as the bombings appear to be recklessly hitting civilians and in some cases intentionally targeting civilian facilities, so far killing more than 440 civilians. HRW further alleges that the weapons used in Aleppo constitutes a war crime. The report documents use in heavily populated areas of incendiary weapons, cluster bombs and bombs of a size that have made whole buildings collapse. Based on the reports of war crimes taking place in Aleppo, HRW and hundreds of other non-profit organizations (NGOs) have appealed [text] to the UN member states to step in. In response to Russia vetoing all resolutions regarding the bombings in Aleppo in the UN Security Council, the coalition of NGOs has urged that a special emergency session be held in the UN General Assembly to address the problem.

The conflict in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] started during the Arab spring in 2011 and has been going on since. The violence seems to have escalated of late, with several organizations criticizing the actions of the Russian/Syrian coalitions. In October the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein [official profile] stated that the bombing of Aleppo constituted war crimes of “historic proportions” [JURIST report]. There have also been calls for investigations into whether the central actors in the conflict can be indicted for war crimes. In October France announced [JURIST report] its intention to pursue an investigation of the alleged war crimes through the International Criminal Court [official website] and in November a group of German lawyers filed suit [JURIST report] against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a German court.