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Bombing of Aleppo a crime of 'historic proportions' - UN

15:10, Friday, 21 October, 2016
Bombing of Aleppo a crime of 'historic proportions' - UN

The siege and bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo "constitute crimes of historic proportions", according to the UN's human rights chief.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has called for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

In a speech by video to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, he again called for the major powers to put aside their differences.

"The siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo, are not simply tragedies; they also constitute crimes of historic proportions," he said.

The special session was also addressed by Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria.He said that war crimes would continue to be documented, and he appealed to the government of President Bashar al Assad to provide information on violations.

Airstrikes were suspended two days earlier.

Rebels have dismissed the truce, saying it was not serious.

The Syrian government said it had opened a key corridor for people who wanted to get out of the eastern neighbourhoods, but many will not leave because they say they have had no guarantees they will not be arrested.

Before the pause in the violence, Russian and Syrian warplanes had bombarded the city for weeks.

In September, Syrian government forces encircled the rebel groups in the east of Aleppo and launched an all-out assault with Russian support.

Since then, around 2,700 people have been killed or injured in the bombardment, according to the UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It is thought that around 250,000 civilians who live in Aleppo have been trapped by the fighting.

The city has been split into government and rebel-held zones since 2012.

On Thursday European leaders pulled back from threatening Russia with sanctions over the bombing of Aleppo.

Britain, France and Germany pushed at a summit in Brussels to issue a sanctions warning to Russia if "current atrocities" in Aleppo continue.

They wanted to warn Russia that individuals and organisations linked to the bombings could face asset freezes and travel bans.

Theresa May urged other European leaders to press Russia to stop its "appalling [and] sickening" atrocities in Syria.

But the proposal did not get enough support.

The final communique said: "The EU is considering all available options should the current atrocities continue."

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