German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused Syrian government troops of committing “crimes against humanity” that could not be overlooked.
Human rights groups and Western countries have previously accused Syria’s army, backed by Russia’s air force, of targeting hospitals, bakeries and other civilian areas when bombarding rebel areas, including eastern Aleppo.
“The use of barrel bombs and incendiary bombs, and even chemical weapons, is not being shied away from,” Merkel said as she received the Seoul Peace Prize in Berlin.
“The civilian population is being starved, medical institutes are being attacked, doctors are dying and hospitals are being destroyed,” she said, adding that not even United Nations aid convoys were safe from bombardment.
“These are serious crimes against humanity. We mustn’t overlook that,” Merkel said.
On Tuesday, a U.N. human rights spokeswoman said all sides fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas.
The U.N. Human Rights Council said late last month it would identify the perpetrators of war crimes in Aleppo, and it launched a special inquiry into the use of starvation and air strikes there.
Merkel also urged Europeans to think about crises further afield. On North Korea’s nuclear programme and tensions in the East and South China Sea, she said: “Everyone involved has a duty to stick to the internationally agreed rules and to cooperate.”