France to seek International Criminal Court options for war crimes investigation in Syria
Rebel-held Eastern Aleppo finally fell on Tuesday, December 13 Photograph: (AFP)
France is seeking an international war crimes investigation against Syrian and Russian forces in eastern Aleppo and is working to ask the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to launch the investigation.
"These bombings - and I said it in Moscow - are war crimes," the country’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Inter radio after a French-drafted resolution on Syria was vetoed by Russia in a UN security council meeting on Saturday.
"We shall contact the International Criminal Court prosecutor to see how she can launch these investigations." he added.
Ever since the collapse of a US-Russia brokered ceasefire deal in September, Russian and Syrian forces have pounded Aleppo’s rebel-held sectors in their biggest offensive.
US secretary of state John Kerry had also called for a war crimes investigation last week.
It is,however, unclear how the ICC proceeds with an investigation because Syria is not its member and so the court has no jurisdiction in the west Asian country.
The only way for the case to make it to ICC is through a referral from the UN security council. Moscow vetoed a French resolution in May 2014 to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC.
"It is very dangerous to play with such words because war crimes also weigh on the shoulders of American officials," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, according to RIA news agency.
A French diplomatic source told Reuters that Paris had begun to comb through the ICC’s articles to see what could be done.
"It will be complicated, but we are looking for other solutions. Our jurists are trying to find other ways," the source said, adding that Paris was also not ruling out a new security council resolution.
Ayrault added in his interview that Paris would also seek separate sanctions on the Syrian government at the United Nations once a joint UN and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry concludes on October 21.
"We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," Ayrault said.
"If the President decides (to see Putin), this will not be to trade pleasantries," he added.
(WION with inputs from Reuters)