France floats ICC war crimes probe in Syria

10/13/2016

France has said it will turn to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch investigations into alleged war crimes by Russia and Syria. This follows allegations of Russian obstruction at the UN Security Council.

The top French diplomat floated the idea Monday during an interview with public radio station France. It follows a trip last week to Moscow and Washington before a France-sponsored UN Security Council resolution aimed at a fresh ceasefire failed amid a Russian veto.

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

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the September shelling of hospitals in Aleppo a war crime, shortly before the US suspended its military cooperation with Russia on Syria.

"Who has carried out the bombardments?" Ayrault said in Monday's interview. "There are the Syrians, but also the Russians, who have come with their sophisticated weapons that allow them to penetrate down to bunkers where people are trying to protect themselves."

He said that France now wants to work through the ICC to launch a formal war crimes investigation. Since the collapse of efforts to reach a ceasefire last month, Russian and Syrian warplanes have launched their biggest offensive on Aleppo's rebel-held areas, in battles that could become a turning point in the five-year-old civil war.

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