War crimes were committed by both sides in the fierce battle for Aleppo, according to a new report by the United Nations.
Syrian and Russian forces conducted “daily air strikes” on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, killing hundreds and destroying hospitals, the report found.
Meanwhile, fighters for the rebels are also said to have committed war crimes in the siege between July and December last year.
Women and children were among hundreds who lost their lives.
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria, said: “Civilians in Aleppo were not just caught in the line of fire. More often than not, they were they were the target.
“Foremost the Syrian and Russian air force relentlessly bombarded Eastern Aleppo city as part of a strategy to force surrender.
“Hundreds of civilians – many of them children – lost their lives to the daily bombardments that used concrete piercing bombs, cluster munition, incendiary weapons and crudely weaponized chlorine canisters on civilian inhabited areas.”
Cluster munitions were “pervasively used” and air-dropped into densely-populated areas, the report said, amounting to the war crime of indiscriminate attacks.
Investigators could not say whether both Syrian and Russian forces had used the weapons or if only one had. They also did not attribute any specific war crime investigated to Russian forces.
The investigators accused the Syrian government of a “meticulously planned and ruthlessly carried out” air strike on a UN and Syrian Red Crescent convoy at Orum al-Kubra, in rural western Aleppo on September 19 that killed 14 aid workers.
A previous UN inquiry had been unable to determine who conducted the strike.
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