BELGRADE – French President Francois Hollande has suggested Russia could face war crimes charges over its bombardment of Syria’s second city Aleppo, BBC reports.
Mr Hollande told French TV this could take place in the International Criminal Court (ICC). He also said he might refuse to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is due to visit France next week.
Last week Russia vetoed a Franco-Spanish UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the bombing.
Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, and said it targets terrorist groups in Syria.
Neither Russia nor Syria is a member of the International Criminal Court.
“These are people who today are the victims of war crimes. Those that commit these acts will have to face up to their responsibility, including in the ICC,” Mr Hollande told TMC.
“If I do receive him [Mr Putin], I will tell him that it is unacceptable. It could also seriously affect Russia’s image,” the French president added.
Mr Hollande’s call for Russia to be prosecuted came as Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France was working to find a way for the ICC prosecutor to launch an investigation into attacks on rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Last week US Secretary of State John Kerry also called for war crimes charges, saying Russian and Syrian government attacks on hospitals were “beyond the accidental” and part of a deliberate strategy.
And what about France and US?
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) July 19, 2016
In the July 2016 Syria demanded that UN take action after French war planes killed more than 120 civilians during airstrikes near the Turkish-Syrian border. The deaths came just a day after US air assaults killed a further 20 people in Manbij.
Damascus wants the organization to look into atrocities committed by France, which is a member of the US-led international coalition, after it targeted the village of Toukhan Al-Kubra, located near the Turkish-Syrian border and the city of Manbij.
“The French unjust aggression claimed the lives of more than 120 civilians, most of them are children, women and elderly, in addition to tens of wounded citizens, the majority of them are also children and women as reports say that the fate of scores of other civilians who still under debris are unknown too,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote, as cited by the Syrian Arab News Agency.
The mass death toll in Toukhan Al-Kubra came just a day after US war planes killed around 20 people, mainly women and children, while many more were injured in and around the city of Manbij, the Foreign Ministry states.
“The government of the Syrian Arab Republic condemns, with the strongest terms, the two bloody massacres perpetrated by the French and US warplanes and those affiliated to the so-called international coalition which send their missiles and bombs to the civilians instead of directing them to the terrorist gangs… Syria also affirms that those who want to combat terrorism seriously should coordinate with the Syrian government and army,” the ministry added.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense says that it is aware of the loss of civilian life in Syria, RT reported at the time.