France says Russia could face war crimes charges over its bombing campaign of Syria’s eastern city of Aleppo.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Inter radio Monday that the bombings are war crimes. He said that “includes all those who are complicit for what’s happening in Aleppo, including Russian leaders.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, meets with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Moscow, Russia, on October 6, 2016.
Ayrault said France would consult with prosecutors from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to see how to launch investigations.
“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.
Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking civilians in Syria, and says it targets terrorist groups.
The French foreign minister also said French President Francois Hollande could refuse to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is to visit France next week. He said if Hollande agrees to meet Putin “it will not be for pleasantries, it will be a time to speak truths.”
Putin’s scheduled visit to Paris on October 19 is to inaugurate a new Orthodox church.
On Saturday, Russia blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution proposed by France and Spain on ending the bombing in Syria.
It is not clear how the ICC could investigate the bombings in Aleppo because neither Russia nor Syria is a member of the International Criminal Court. The matter could be referred to the court by the Security Council, but the council has been deadlocked over Syria.