France announced on Monday that it will ask the international criminal court to launch a war crimes probe into actions committed by Russian and Syrian forces in Aleppo. The eastern-Syrian city has been subject to near-constant airstrikes since September, causing some officials to predict the city will be completely destroyed if the bombing continues. While U.S.-backed rebel forces continue to be targeted by the Russians and Syrians, so do civilians, including women, children, UN aid workers, and hospitals.
“We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo,” Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, said Monday on France’s Inter radio. He added that France’s president, Francois Hollande, will consider the situation in Aleppo when determining whether he will be meeting with Vladimir Putin when the Russian President travels to Paris next week. “If the president decides [to see Putin], this will not be to trade pleasantries,” the foreign minister said.
Over the weekend, competing resolutions proposed by Western nations and Russia were each defeated in the UN Security Council. According to ABC News, “Russia vetoed a French-drafted resolution demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign that the Syrian government and Russia are carrying out against rebel-held districts in Aleppo.” The Russian resolution, which made no mention of suspending air strikes, died after failing to receive the required nine “yes” votes in a council of the 15 member nations. This news comes only days after the U.S. suspended diplomatic relations with Russia over Syria.
Meanwhile, Aleppo is still besieged. Late last week, Syrian forces seized control of Bustan al-Basha, a key Aleppo neighborhood that is located on the front line between rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo and the rest of the city. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that since the September 22 collapse of a U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire, at least 290 people, including 57 children, have been killed in Aleppo’s rebel-controlled neighborhoods.