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UN panel says evacuation of Syria's Aleppo was a war crime

UN panel says evacuation of Syria's Aleppo was a war crime

Both sides in the battle for Aleppo in Syria past year committed war crimes, according to a United Nations investigation released Wednesday.

The report documents brutal tactics employed by the parties to the conflict in the country as they engaged in the decisive battle for the once iconic city between July and December 2016, resulting in unparalleled suffering for Syrian men, women and children.

"The deliberate targeting of civilians has resulted in the enormous loss of human life, including hundreds of children", he added.

The nature of the weapons used and the absence of a military presence in the majority of cases reviewed terrorized residents of western Aleppo in violation of the global humanitarian law principle of distinction.

Also detailed in the report were an attack on a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy and "indiscriminate attacks by armed groups".

The report notes that the siege-like tactics employed by pro-Government forces in eastern Aleppo previous year trapped civilians without adequate food or medical supplies, and that between July and December, Syrian and Russian forces carried out daily air strikes, claiming hundreds of lives and reducing hospitals, schools and markets to rubble. The Commission also notes that it received reports of use of cluster munitions in densely populated areas.

"As the situation deteriorated in eastern Aleppo and people tried desperately to flee, some armed groups violently prevented them and used them as human shields". Subsequently, planes, described by several witnesses as Sukhoi jets, carried out attacks, killing several aid workers.

"Throughout the period under review, the skies over Aleppo city and its environs were jointly controlled by Syrian and Russian air forces", the report titled "Special inquiry into the events in Aleppo" said.

"When launched without a clear military target, these attacks intentionally terrorised the civilian population", the report went on. "The intentional targeting of these medical facilities amounts to war crimes", the report reads.

As part of a strategy to force those inside the city's rebel-held east to surrender, pro-government forces imposed a siege in late July, trapping civilians without adequate food or medical supplies, and stepped up an aerial campaign.

"The UN Security Council is doing nothing" about war crimes in Syria, panel member Carla del Ponte told a news conference in Geneva.

Major Abd ar-Rahim accused the YPG of killing armed group fighters and of collaborating with pro-Government forces over the summer.

"[They] use predominately the same aircraft and weapons, thus rendering attribution impossible in many cases", according to the report, which did not attribute any war crimes to Russian Federation.

The use of chlorine as a weapon is prohibited by global law as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party.

"Some of these agreements amount to forced displacement".

The report called on both sides to "comply with their obligations under worldwide human rights and global humanitarian law, including refraining from all indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks".

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