LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - EU foreign ministers will accuse the Syrian government and its allies of using disproportionate violence in its assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo that “may amount to war crimes”, according to a draft statement ahead of their meeting on Monday.
France and the United States have already said the Aleppo offensive, which has included air strikes on hospitals, includes war crimes for which Syria and Russia are responsible.
European Union foreign ministers will meet in Luxemburg to discuss Syria and a draft joint statement said they would “strongly condemn the excessive and disproportionate attacks by the regime and its allies.”
“Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, the intensity and scale of aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate,” said the document, seen by Reuters on Thursday.
Air strikes on hospitals and the use of barrel and cluster bombs, as well as chemical weapons, were “causing widespread civilian casualties ... and may amount to war crimes.”
Paris and London are leading EU efforts to impose more sanctions on Syrians close to President Bashar al-Assad in response to the devastating bombing of besieged east Aleppo, where more than 250,000 people are trapped.
“The use of starvation of civilians through the besiegement of populated areas, as a tactic of war, and forced population transfers are contrary to international law,” the draft said.
“The EU recalls its conviction that the situation in Syria should be sent to the International Criminal Court ... In this context, the EU will continue its policy of imposing restrictive measures against the Syrian regime and its supporters as long as the repression continues.”
Russia and Iran are fighting on Damascus’ side in Syria but, notably, the EU document does not specifically mention Moscow as the bloc is wary of enraging the Kremlin even further.
The EU and Russia also back opposite sides in the conflict in Ukraine.
Editing by Robin Pomeroy