UN: Syrian regime 'bombed' Aleppo aid convoy

UN: Syrian regime 'bombed' Aleppo aid convoy
The UN has listed a catalogue of possible Syrian regime war crimes, during its offensive on regime-held east Aleppo last year.
3 min read
01 March, 2017
Tens of thousands of civilians left their homes after a regime victory in Aleppo [Anadolu]

Syrian regime war planes carried out last year's bombings of an aid convoy heading to east Aleppo, a UN-backed probe said Wednesday.

At least ten aid workers were killed in the attacks, which left the highway to the city littered with burned out trucks and damaged humanitarian supplies.

The attack took place during a ceasefire between regime and rebel forces, while trapped residents in east Aleppo were due to receive desperately needed aid.  

"Syrian air forces targeted a humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo countryside," the United Nations Commission of Inquiry said referring to the 19 September attack in Urem al-Kubra.

In concluded that the attack "was meticulously planned and ruthlessly carried out" by Damascus, and its intention was to destroy the aid. 

A separate UN investigation said in December that it was unable to establish blame for the bombing.

Russia and the Syrian regime have accused rebels of shelling the convoy, but most observers, humanitarian groups and activists have held Damascus responsible.

The UN team concluded that the regime was responsible for the attack after analysing satellite images, forensic evidence and other material. 

September's attack took place during sustained efforts by the Syrian regime to capture the rebel-held eastern section of Aleppo.

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It saw waves of bombings hitting homes, hospitals and markets, while a devastating siege left doctors with few supplies and the rebel-held districts on the brink of famine.

The inquiry said that Russia and Syria "conducted daily air strikes", while regime war planes were responsible for dropping chemical weapons - such as chlorine - on civilian areas.

East Aleppo fell to the regime on 22 December after massive air raids and shelling caused a massive rebel rout and thousands of dead civilians.

A deal struck allowed rebel fighters and civilians to leave the remaining pockets of opposition territory in the city, with thousands forced to leave their homes or risk living under regime control.

This was act was "a crime of forced displacement", the UN body said.

However, the UN said civilians in the regime-controlled western section of Aleppo were "victim to war crimes committed by all parties".

It also accused rebels of firing indiscriminately into civilian areas in western Aleppo with "no clear military objective".

The UN also said some factions had used civilians as "human shields" and violently prevented them from leaving areas outside their control.

Doctors Without Borders described East Aleppo as a "kill box" for regime forces during the five-month siege on east Aleppo.

The UN concluded that regime and allied forces carried out reprisals against civilians in areas of the city they captured.

The battle began to decisively turn in the regime's favour in late November, setting off a series of killings perpetrated by both Syrian soldiers and allied fighters. 

"These included cases of Syrian soldiers killing their own relatives" who backed the opposition.

Regime fighters were also accused of executing the wife and daughter of a rebel commander as they tried to enter western Aleppo. 

Agencies contributed to this story.