by WorldTribune Staff, September 28, 2016
The U.S. accused Russia of “barbarism” and European leaders alleged war crimes were committed as Moscow launched heavy airstrikes in recent days to back Syrian regime forces attempting to take full control of Aleppo.
“Russia has decided to go all out because it no longer believes in the possibility of collaborating with the United States in Syria,” said Fabrice Balanche, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
A U.S.-Russia brokered ceasefire, dubbed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as the “last chance” to end the five-year conflict, went into effect across Syria earlier this month. It fell apart within a week.
Aleppo, the country’s most populous city, has been divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since mid-2012.
UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 150 people have been killed by Russian and Syrian airstrikes on Aleppo since the government of President Bashar Assad announced its offensive last week.
The casualties include 11 civilians killed on Sept. 27 in raids on the neighborhoods of Al-Shaar and Al-Mashhad, according to the Observatory.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, at an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Sept. 25, accused Russia of “barbarism”, while both the British and French envoys alleged the bombing of Aleppo constituted possible war crimes.
The violence in Aleppo was on an “absolutely unacceptable scale,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sept. 27, adding that it was up to Russia and Syria to ensure humanitarian aid could reach the battered city.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the air campaign.
“The appalling attacks on Aleppo have shaken all of us, and the violence and the attacks we have seen… is morally totally unacceptable and is a blatant violation of international law,” Stoltenberg told a news conference in Bratislava.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Sept. 27 that medical facilities in east Aleppo were on the verge of “complete destruction”.
“Over the last weekend alone, more than 200 people were injured and taken to understaffed health facilities in east Aleppo,” a spokeswoman said in Geneva. The WHO called for “an immediate establishment of humanitarian routes to evacuate sick and wounded from the eastern part of the city.”