World

France: Investigate Russia For Syrian War Crimes

| by Sarah Zimmerman
French foreign minister Jean-Marc AyraultFrench foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

France's foreign minister is calling on the International Court of Justice to investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Syria.

Russia entered the Syrian war last fall to help President Bashar al-Assad remain in power and defeat the rebel armies in the nation, according to the New York Times. Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed sophisticated weaponry into the country, harming rebels and civilians alike. The United States has been supporting groups that are fighting to topple Assad's regime.

As tensions between Russia and the U.S. over the situation in Syria rise, talks of a cease-fire have been limited. Russia vetoed a UN resolution drafted by France and Spain that called for a complete end of all air strikes in Syria, save for those that target ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists. The Independent reports that this is the fifth time Russia has vetoed a resolution for UN action in the course of the six-year long civil war in Syria.

Agitated, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is working to find a way for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes committed in eastern Aleppo by Russian and pro-Assad forces, Reuters reports.

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"These bombings - and I said it in Moscow - are war crimes," said Ayrault, according to Reuters. "It includes all those who are complicit for what's happening in Aleppo, including Russian leaders. 

"We shall contact the International Criminal Court prosecutor to see how she can launch these investigations."

France, along with the U.S. and the U.K., believe that Russia's air strikes do not directly target terrorist organizations, and instead are striking hospitals, water stations and civilian homes or workplaces. 

Russia maintains that these strikes on civilian infrastructures indeed target terrorists, as rebels commonly use civilians as human shields. President Bashar al-Assad, with Russia's approval, increased bombing in Aleppo in September and has killed 338 people thus far, according to the World Health Organization.

"We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," said Ayrault, according to the Independent.  

Sources: The New York Times, The Independent, Reuters / Photo Credit: Jean-Marc Ayrault/Flickr

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