Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity by systematically using barrel bombs to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure in Aleppo, says Amnesty International.
The accusations come in a report released on Tuesday, two days after the regime bombed a school and community center in a rebel-held district in the city where students were writing exams.
Based on more than 100 interviews with current and former residents – many of them survivors and activists – and analysis of images and videos from the besieged city, the 74-page report documents “unthinkable atrocities”. These include air strikes that have mostly killed civilians, as well as arbitrary detention and torture mainly by pro-regime forces, it says.
Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement: “Widespread atrocities, in particular the vicious and unrelenting aerial bombardment of civilian neighborhoods by government forces, have made life for civilians in Aleppo increasingly unbearable.
“These reprehensible and continual strikes on residential areas point to a policy of deliberately and systematically targeting civilians in attacks that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.” He added: “By relentlessly and deliberately targeting civilians, the Syrian government appears to have adopted a callous policy of collective punishment against the civilian population of Aleppo.”
More than 3,000 civilians died in barrel-bomb attacks in Aleppo province from January 2014 to March 2015, along with 35 fighters, and over 12,000 have been killed by the weapon across Syria since 2012, according to monitoring groups.
Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Salem al-Meslet calls for referring war criminals, topped by Bashar al-Assad, to the International Criminal Court, adding that the Assad regime has gone further in committing genocide and war crimes against humanity for over four years and under the watch of the international community.
Meslet lays responsibility on the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, for the catastrophic situation in Syria as they have so far failed to move to end the ongoing tragedy in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)