'Iran and Russia in danger of becoming war crimes accomplices'

French FM calls on Moscow, Tehran to desist from prolonging the civil war in Syria.

By REUTERS
September 25, 2016 17:57
1 minute read.
Syria Russia

Residents of Nawa city in Syria inspect the damage after a reported strike against ISIS positions by the Russian Air Force, November 21. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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PARIS - French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Sunday Russia and Iran would become accomplices in war crimes if they continued to prolong the war in Syria.

Describing Russia and Iran as supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ayrault called on them "to take their responsibility by stopping this strategy that leads to a dead-end."

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"Otherwise, Russia and Iran will become accomplices of the war crimes committed in Aleppo," the minister said in a written statement with reference to the bombings that struck the Syrian city and killed scores of people.

Damascus and its allies including Shi'ite militia from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon have encircled rebel-held areas of Aleppo gradually this year, achieving their long-held objective of fully besieging the area this summer with Russian air support.
Syrian government seizes area north of Aleppo, tightening siege on city's east

On Saturday, Syrian government and rebel forces battled for control of high ground on the Aleppo outskirts as warplanes bombed the city's opposition-held east relentlessly in a Russian-backed offensive that has left Washington's Syria policy in tatters.

In their first major ground advance of the offensive, the army and its militia allies seized control of the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp, a few kilometers north of Aleppo, only for rebels to counterattack a few hours later.

Rebels said they had recovered some or all of Handarat. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle was ongoing. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.



The assault on Aleppo, where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped in a besieged opposition sector, could be the biggest battle yet in a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million from their homes.

Two weeks after Moscow and Washington announced a ceasefire, President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies appear to have launched a campaign for a decisive battlefield victory that has buried any hope for diplomacy.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who hammered out the truce over the course of months of intensive diplomacy, was left pleading in vain this week with Russia to halt air strikes.


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