The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the worsening situation in Aleppo on Friday after a formal request from Britain, a United Nations statement said.
Britain made the request on behalf of a core group of 11 Western and Arab countries, including the United States and regional powers backing Syrian rebel forces.
Britain’s letter to the 47-member forum said the special session was needed “following the most recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Aleppo, and the failure of the Assad regime and its allies to fulfill their international human rights commitments”, the UN statement said.
The European Union has condemned Russia’s air campaign, saying it may be guilty of war crimes. The EU also promised to impose more sanctions on the Assad regime.
Russia called for voting against the draft UN Human Rights Council resolution on Aleppo. Alexey Borodavkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN office in Geneva, said Tuesday: “We are calling on everyone, who in deeds, not just in words wants to restore peace in Aleppo and in Syria, to vote against the draft of this resolution.”
Activists said that at least 65 civilians, including 12 children and 9 women, were killed in Russian airstrikes on rebel-held areas across Syria on Tuesday. The victims included 20 who were killed in eastern Aleppo, mostly in the neighborhoods of Almarja and Bustan Alqasr.
The opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said that in addition to the imposition of sanctions on the Assad regime, the European Union needs to take restrictive measures against Russian individuals and entities involved in war crimes in Syria.
In a statement released on Monday, HNC reiterated its calls for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The statement warned that the EU’s credibility will be at stake so long as Russia’s crimes in Syria continue unchallenged.
“The situation in Eastern Aleppo is an unconscionable humanitarian disaster that requires urgent action to halt the daily indiscriminate bombardments and lift the siege. That some European Member States continue to protect Russia from credible EU action is unacceptable,” the HNC said.
The statement added: “Easing the pressure on Russia, who has the ability to immediately halt the disaster in Eastern Aleppo, is not a credible approach. The EU must focus its efforts on credible pressure options to reinforce the current diplomatic track, including restrictive measures against Russian individuals and entities that are enabling Assad’s indiscriminate bombardment of Aleppo and committing war crimes.”
“Alongside sanctions, the EU must actively seek accountability mechanisms outside of the UN Security Council, where an ICC referral continues to be blocked by Russia.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)