Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström on the situation in Aleppo
After months of siege and indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population, the opposition in the eastern parts of Aleppo have lost, but the violence continues. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at last 82 people have been killed in extrajudicial executions since 11 December. UNICEF has reported that 100 unaccompanied children are trapped in a building, under heavy attack in east Aleppo. Thousands of people are fleeing the indiscriminate bombing. An agreement on evacuation of the last of the rebels appears to have been impeded following objections from Iran. The Syrian regime and its allies are responsible for the atrocities now being committed.
The conflict in Syria has been characterised by extreme violence and atrocities in violation of the law of war and probably constitute war crimes. The Syrian regime, with Russian support, has bombed civilian areas indiscriminately; hospitals and schools have been subjected to targeted attacks, as was a humanitarian convoy. We also condemn the besieged opposition's shelling of western Aleppo, even if the proportions are not comparable.
We cannot allow this to happen without reacting strongly. In the immediate perspective, the international community must continue to demand that the fighting ceases, the siege is lifted and humanitarian organisations are given full access to those in need. In the longer perspective, we must take action to ensure that those responsible for the atrocities are held to account for their actions. We must actively collect evidence and testimonies, and ensure that accountability can be demanded. Sweden will look over the possibilities available to us for stepping up prosecution of war crimes at national level and in cooperation with other EU countries.
Sweden has provided some SEK 2.3 billion in humanitarian aid since 2011 and is currently working to assist refugees and communities that receive refugees with long-term support through our Syria crisis strategy, which encompasses SEK 1.7 billion over five years. We have also supported the UN's efforts to find a peaceful solution and have sought to ensure that women and civil society can take part in a peace process. We have taken in some 120 000 asylum seekers from Syria. However, it is clear that what is happening in Syria is a global responsibility. We will continue to pursue issues related to Syria during our membership of the UN Security Council.