UN panel alleges war crimes in last year's battle for Aleppo
A United Nations panel said yesterday the evacuation of eastern Aleppo, after months of siege and aerial bombing by Russian and Syrian forces, was one of many war crimes committed by those fighting for control of Syria's largest city.
The findings came amid open-ended peace talks mediated by a UN envoy, and could bolster opposition demands for a political transition in which Syrian President Bashar Assad would cede power - something the government has adamantly rejected.
The commission of inquiry on Syria unveiled a report looking at violations by all parties in last year's battle for Aleppo, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, and the use of chemical agents and cluster munitions.
The panel singled out a "particularly egregious attack" in which Syrian warplanes targeted a humanitarian aid convoy.
"The scale of what happened in Aleppo is unprecedented in the Syrian conflict," said the commission's chairman, Paulo Pinheiro.
Aleppo was the economic capital of Syria before becoming a major battleground after rebels swept in during the summer of 2012. The capture of eastern Aleppo in December was a huge victory for Assad and shifted the military balance in his favour.