UN Human Rights Council votes to open probe into Aleppo ‘war crimes’

The UN Human Rights Council has voted to start an independent special inquiry into the situation in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, indicating that the blame for most of the civilian casualties lies with Syria and Russia.

A resolution aimed at reviewing alleged human rights violations in Aleppo was introduced by Britain and its Western and Arab allies. The document was approved Friday, with Russia and China voting against the draft.

The council has requested that the International Commission of Inquiry "conduct a comprehensive independent special inquiry into the events in Aleppo." It also urges the body to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the alleged abuses.

A resolution aimed at reviewing alleged human rights violations in Aleppo was introduced by Britain and its Western and Arab allies. The document was approved Friday, with Russia and China voting against the draft.

The council has requested that the International Commission of Inquiry "conduct a comprehensive independent special inquiry into the events in Aleppo." It also urges the body to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the alleged abuses.

“The ancient city of Aleppo, a place of millennial civility and beauty, is today a slaughterhouse – a gruesome locus of pain and fear,” reads a statement published on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Armed opposition groups continue to fire mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighborhoods of western Aleppo,” the paper states, while adding that “[Syrian] government forces and their allies are responsible the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties” in the east of Aleppo.

The fighting has divided the city of Aleppo into two parts, with western districts currently under government control and eastern parts held by rebels and Al-Nusra Front terrorists.

The Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Human Rights Council “to cast aside political disagreements and focus exclusively on the women, men and children whose suffering cries out for our help.”

The commissioner is also urging the UN Security Council to settle its “rivalries and act as one,” the statement says. The document also stresses an urgent need to report the case of Aleppo to the International Criminal Court to hold “every party” accountable for the alleged human rights crimes.

“In Aleppo, there must be an immediate, prolonged and all-encompassing ceasefire to enable the passage of humanitarian relief to all in need – impartially and unconditionally. All parties must provide assistance and free passage for all civilians wishing to flee, without any form of reprisal,” the statement notes.

Militants repeatedly jeopardize ceasefire attempts – Moscow

On Tuesday, Moscow and Damascus halted their anti-terrorist strikes on eastern Aleppo. The move was aimed at allowing civilians to flee the war-ravaged zone through special corridors and also help UN humanitarian convoys reach those remaining in the area.

The humanitarian pause has since been extended and is still in force. However, terrorists still continue to shell residential areas of the government-controlled side. On Thursday, militants opened fire on civilian evacuation routes, injuring three Russian officers at the El-Masharka government checkpoint.

In a phone call with the US secretary of state the same day, Lavrov noted that while militants and Al-Nusra Front terrorists are also free to leave Aleppo through the corridors, they have instead opted to hamper any such attempt by civilians.

Washington “welcomed” the temporary pause in military action, US State Department John Kirby announced Friday. The official also voiced deep concerns over information that militants are preventing civilians from leaving East Aleppo.

Russia on its part has repeatedly criticized the US for failing to keep to its obligation to pressure “moderate” rebels to separate themselves from Al-Nusra Front jihadists in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria.While admitting that Al-Nusra is a “spoiler” to the truce in Syria, the US State Department on Thursday said that targeting the group is not top of its agenda.

UN decision politically motivated – experts to RT 

Speaking to RT, political and social commentator Mo Ansar said that the actions of the Western-backed forces have been the key stumbling block in implementing a long-lasting truce in Aleppo, and in the whole of Syria.

“The US and Russia were able to agree on a ceasefire. Russia and the Syrian government have been able to agree on a ceasefire. The biggest problem seems to be the UK and the US-backed forces locally, and Al-Nusra as well. These guys have been bombing indiscriminately since the beginning of the year,” Ansar said, adding that the UN has proven ‘toothless’ in trying to resolve the situation and is unlikely to carry out a solid investigation.

“Who is going to bring about calls for war crimes tribunals… if Western-backed forces in Syria are constantly committing war crimes? If the Western backed Saudi forces are constantly committing war crimes and humanitarian violations and human rights crises. Well, who is going to call for this? The UN has been absolutely toothless,” Mo Ansar told RT.

"The double standard in this is obvious, it has been always obvious," Damascus-based journalist Ziad Haidar told RT.

"What happened in Yemen and what is possible to happen in Mosul is the same thing. This is the usual tool that the West uses when it finds itself in a position where it cannot move forward. And it uses UN institutions for its interests.”

Ex-military officer and political analyst Brad Cabana echoed the statement by Haidar, saying: "The [UN] resolution is clearly political."

"It's clearly an attempt to use the United Nations for a political objective which really undermines the United Nations as an institution."