Both Sides in 6-Year Syrian Conflict Committed War Crimes: UN Report

U.N. investigators said the U.S.-led coalition did not carry out any air attacks over Aleppo in the second half of 2016

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This still image taken from drone footage, posted online by the communications arm of Ahrar al-Sham militant group, purports to show a blast on the ground, apparently the result of an airstrike, in a Syrian-government controlled neighborhood of Aleppo, S, VOA

UN, March 2, 2017: Opposing sides in the fight for control of Aleppo committed war crimes, according to a new United Nations report.

The U.N.’s latest report on the six-year conflict said the Syrian government’s aerial bombing and strafing of a humanitarian convoy that killed 14 aid workers and halted relief operations were among the war crimes that were committed.

Syrian and Russian forces executed indiscriminate “daily air strikes” using cluster munitions on the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo between July and the and the fall of the city in late December, the report said. Hundreds of people were killed and hospitals destroyed, amounting to the war crime of indiscriminate attacks.

Map, VOA

Was Russia involved?

U.N. investigators could not determine if both Syrian and Russian forces were involved in the Aleppo attacks because they jointly controlled their air space over the area “throughout the period under review.”

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“[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 Russia.

The report, which was released Wednesday, said Syrian helicopters employed a banned weapon, toxic chlorine bombs, on Aleppo “throughout 2016,” causing hundreds of causalities.

More than 5,000 pro-government forces surrounded eastern Aleppo in an attempt to “surrender or starve” opposition forces, the report said.

This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Feb. 4, 2017, claims to show a Russian sapper looking for mines in a street in Aleppo, Syria. VOA

Civilian deaths

Opposition groups killed and injured dozens of people when they shelled government-controlled western Aleppo, the report said. The groups also stopped civilians from leaving eastern Aleppo and used them as “human shields,” and attacked a Kurdish residential district, both of which are war crimes.

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U.N. investigators said the U.S.-led coalition did not carry out any air attacks over Aleppo in the second half of 2016.

The report was issued as Syrian peace talks continue in Geneva. The findings are based on 291 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as forensic evidence and satellite imagery. (VOA)

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