António Guterres should use Moscow visit to confront Russia over its unlawful Aleppo attacks

Russia's devestating airstrikes on eastern Aleppo have killed huge numbers of civilians © Karam al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images
Incoming UN Secretary General António Guterres’ two-day visit should include strong message over Russia’s part in crimes against humanity in Syria 
 
Ahead of a visit to Moscow by the incoming United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres tomorrow and Friday (24-25 November), Jane Connors, Amnesty International’s Director of International Advocacy, said: 
 
“António Guterres must use this visit to press the Russian authorities to end unlawful attacks in Syria - including the pattern of airstrikes that appear deliberately to target hospitals and medical facilities in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. 
 
“He also must call on the Russian authorities to stop assisting Syrian government forces and their allies to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
“Russia should use its influence to ensure Syrian authorities end unlawful attacks on civilians, release arbitrarily detained people, end the use of torture and enforced disappearance and allow unfettered humanitarian access.
 
“In the past five years, Russia has repeatedly used its Security Council veto to block efforts to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. By calling on the Council’s five permanent members - including Russia - to refrain from using the veto to prevent implementation of initiatives aimed at ending mass atrocities, António Guterres would send a strong message that as Secretary General he will demand that the UN take effective action to uphold human rights and protect civilians in conflict.”
 
Amnesty has documented a pattern of apparently deliberate airstrikes by Syrian and Russian forces on hospitals and other civilian objects in Syria. In previous attacks on eastern Aleppo, Syrian government forces - supported by Russia - have shamelessly flouted international humanitarian law by launching unlawful attacks killing and injuring civilians, including by using internationally-banned weapons such as cluster munitions.
 
Next week Amnesty will release new research and testimony from the aftermath of recent attacks in Aleppo.
 

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