Impunity reigns in Aleppo with civilians in dire need of safe corridors

Tens of thousands of civilians have been trying to flee to government-controlled districts in recent weeks. Photo: AFP
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Civilians in Allepo are in urgent need of safe corridors and humanitarian assitance said civil society today as pro-Syrian regime forces make what some call the final advance on the city’s rebel-held districts. Shameful global inaction and widespread impunity are giving perpetrators of mass crimes a free hand, rights groups reported.

“Safe spaces for civilians – for men, women and children – are shrinking as neighbourhood after neighbourhood is captured by the Syrian army and its allies,” said No Peace Without Justice Secretary-General Niccolò Figà-Talamanca. “As if the shelling and destruction were not enough, these forces are now reportedly carrying out executions of both combatants and civilians, particularly those suspected of having ties to opposition groups. This is a travesty: both the laws of war and ordinary decency require that civilian men, women and children be given safe passage, not have their lives taken from them. Combatants should not be executed, but captured and treated in accordance with the law.”

“Syrian government authorities and armed opposition groups should immediately and without condition facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo city,” Human Rights Watch said.

“In recent months the world, including the UN Security Council, has watched from the side-lines as civilians have been slaughtered on a daily basis and eastern Aleppo has been flattened and transformed into a mass grave. The global inaction in the face of such inhumanity is shameful. The lack of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity has allowed the parties, particularly government forces, to commit such crimes on a mass scale,” said Lynn Maalouf, Research Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Beirut office.

As civilians caught in the crossfire have taken to social media to issue panicked calls for help, a UN spokesperson confirmed the increasingly dire situation for those seeking safe passage out of the conflict-ridden eastern Aleppo. Hours before the offensive began in Aleppo, Russia postponed a US-proposed immediate ceasefire. The UN chief and the International Committee of the Red Cross were among those to join the calls by insisting on the obligation of all combatants, and in particular the Syrian government and its allies such as Russia and Iran, towards civilians under international law.

The United Nations last week described the humanitarian situation in Aleppo as catastrophic. 223 civil society called on the UN to demand an end to unlawful attacks on civilians.

“The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict. What can happen next, if the international community continues to collectively wring its hands, can be much more dangerous. What is happening with Aleppo could repeat itself in Douma, in Raqqa, in Idleb. We cannot let this continue,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid said.

“[Civilians] paid the cost of this terrible war which they had nothing to do with and did not decide to be a part of. They were the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. And no side protected them.”, wrote a Red Cross doctor in a letter sent to the BBC.

“We urge all parties to the conflict to allow the safe and immediate evacuation of all children. Unaccompanied and separated children have the right to be registered by a neutral humanitarian organisation and be reunified with their families - wherever they may be” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director.
 

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'We will hold accountable anyone from any side who commits war crimes' - U.K. Ambassador to UN Security Council

'Is there literally nothing that can shame you?' - U.S. Ambassador to UN Security Council

Deal reached to evacuate rebels and civilians from Aleppo - The Guardian

Syria: Aleppo terror and slaughter must be halted – Zeid, UN Human Rights

Aleppo: Reports of executions as Syrian army closes in - CNN

Aleppo battle: UN says 82 civilians shot on the spot - BBC

U.N. Secretary-General ‘Alarmed’ Over Reports of Atrocities in Aleppo - Time

Thousands flee Aleppo onslaught as battle reaches climax - Reuters

There is more than one truth to tell in the terrible story of Aleppo – The Independent

Profile: Aleppo, Syria’s second city – BBC News