UN human rights chief warns of war crimes in Aleppo

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(CNN) — The top UN human rights official called the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo “crimes of historic proportions” on Friday, and accused all parties of violating international humanitarian law in Syria.

In a video speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said armed opposition groups continue to fire mortars into civilian neighborhoods of western Aleppo, but “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.”

He said these violations constitute “war crimes,” and “if knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians, they constitute crimes against humanity.”

The UN High Commissioner for human rights is the latest in a series of international figures to weigh in over the Aleppo offensive.

The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian warplanes, have been pummeling eastern Aleppo as they seek to wrest it from rebel control.