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Syrian government intentionally bombed aid convoy in Aleppo, killing 14 workers, UN report says

Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held Salihin neighbourhood of Aleppo on September 11, 2016. .
Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held Salihin neighbourhood of Aleppo on September 11, 2016. . Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian government intentionally bombed an aid convoy in Aleppo that resulted in the deaths of 14 aid workers and suspended the flow of aid into the war-torn city as both sides of the conflict committed war crimes, according to a United Nations report.

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria released its report Wednesday looking at violations by all parties in the final chapter of the battle for Aleppo.

The report, based on 291 interviews with residents of Aleppo and forensic evidence, said civilians faced “daily Syrian and Russian airstrikes” between July and December of last year.

According to the report, the “relentless airstrikes” and “brutal siege tactics reminiscent of medieval warfare” prevented civilians from accessing food and basic supplies while the bombings deliberately targeted hospitals and clinics, resulting in the “killing and maiming of civilians.”

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“By late November 2016 when pro-government forces on the ground took control over eastern Aleppo, no functioning hospitals or other medical facilities remained. The intentional targeting of these medical facilities amounts to war crimes,” the report reads.

The UN said a deliberate attack on an aid convoy just outside of Aleppo, carried out by the Syrian air force, resulted in the killing of 14 aid workers and the destruction of 17 trucks hauling aid supplies into the besieged city.

“Under no circumstances can humanitarian aid workers be targeted. A deliberate attack against them such as the one that took place in Orum al-Kubra amounts to war crimes and those responsible must be held accountable for their actions,” said commissioner Carla del Ponte in the report.

The report also notes that armed groups carried out attacks with “no other purpose than to terrorize the civilian population.” The UN also noted that some armed attackers “prevented civilians from leaving, effectively using them as human shields.”

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The report also found evidence that the Syrian government had used prohibited cluster munitions.

Both sides were guilty of carrying out indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian areas, it said, adding that rebels had launched imprecise mortar attacks on government-held neighbourhoods.

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with a file from the Associated Press