World powers fear Aleppo ‘slaughter’
Paris: World powers today voiced fears over an imminent all-out assault by President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces on Syria’s second city Aleppo and called for “maximum pressure” to prevent a new massacre.
Columns of tanks, helicopter gunships and warplanes have poured into Syria’s commercial hub over the past two days, with troops firing on a string of rebel neighbourhoods in Aleppo’s southwest today in the battle for control of the
Such an assault could be a potential watershed in the 16-month conflict that has already claimed more than 19,000 lives according to opposition activists.
“With the build-up of heavy weapons around Aleppo, Assad is preparing to carry out a fresh slaughter of his own
people,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told AFP, reiterating a call on Assad to end the violence and step
The US State Department voiced similar concerns yesterday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was “deeply concerned” about the reported buildup of troops and tanks around Aleppo, and that the regime “has already begun a vicious assault on the city and its civilian population”.
“This utterly unacceptable escalation of the conflict could lead to a devastating loss of civilian life and a humanitarian disaster,” he said in a statement. “It will add to the misery being endured by the Syrian people, and plunge the country further into catastrophic civil war.
“The Assad regime must call off this assault.” Italy called for “maximum pressure” on Assad to prevent further killings.
“We need everyone to raise the pressure to maximum on Assad to ward off a new massacre,” Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement, expressing fears about the “distressing” situation in Aleppo.
The UN human rights chief said she was also alarmed by reports of atrocities in Syria and warned that civilians were at “grave risk” in Aleppo. “I have been receiving as yet unconfirmed reports of atrocities, including extra-judicial killings and shootings of civilians by snipers, that took place during the recent fighting in various suburbs of Damascus,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.