UN concerned over civilian casualties after Aleppo battle
International concern is mounting over a potential massacre in the Syrian city of Aleppo as Syrian troops bombarded the besieged city with artillery, and a military jet was spotted flying over the city at low altitude.
Yesterday the UN, along with US, UK, France and Turkey said their worry for civilians was growing.
Aleppo is Syria’s largest city with a population of three millions of inhabitants. It is a commercial hub and former pillar for President Bashar Assad’s support. The Syrian army has launched a threatened counter-offensive against rebel fighters, a battle defined by a pro-government newspaper as the mother of all battles. Bombardments on the city intensified from the early hours of today, activists said, after reinforcements have been amassed near the city over the past few days.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government troops have been advancing towards Aleppo’s Salahedding district, where the largest numbers of rebels are living. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed deep alarm for the people living in the city, saying that “the increasing use of heavy weapons, tanks, attack helicopters and – reportedly – even jet fighters in urban areas has already caused many civilian casualties”.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon echoed international concern over increased casualties among civilians and both called on Assad to immediately halt the attack on Aleppo.
Mr Hague, speaking from the opening ceremony of London Olympics Games, said: “I am deeply concerned by reports that the Syrian government is amassing its troops and tanks around Aleppo, and has already begun a vicious assault on the city and its civilians,” and added: “this dire situation illustrates very strongly why the people of Syria needed the UN Security Council resolution we proposed last week.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “The violence from both sides must stop for the sake of the suffering civilians of Syria.”
Western countries sitting in UN Security Council failed in an attempt to pass a strong resolution condemning Syria’s Human Rights violations and imposing harsher international sanctions. Russia and China vetoes were determined by their concerns that such measures might lead to an international military intervention, as in the case of Libya.
The current impasse at international level might put into a new light UN Security Council watchdog role and undermine its important humanitarian intervention capacity.