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GENEVA, Dec. 14, 2016 – “I am appalled that the deal enabling the evacuation of many thousands of civilians, including the wounded and the sick, from the remaining opposition-held area of eastern Aleppo appears to have collapsed. While the reasons for the breakdown in the ceasefire are disputed, the resumption of extremely heavy bombardment by the Syrian Government forces and their allies on an area packed with civilians is almost certainly a violation of international law and most likely constitutes war crimes. “Any evacuation of the civilians in eastern Aleppo must be carried out in compliance with international law. The Syrian Government has a clear responsibility to ensure its people are safe, and is palpably failing to take this opportunity to do so.

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“The way this deal was dangled in front of this battered and beleaguered population — causing them to hope they might indeed live to see another day — and then snatched away just half a day later is also outrageously cruel.

“The Government of Syria is also obliged under international law to provide medical assistance to all sick and wounded people – civilians and fighters alike. The agreement was there, the buses were in place, the first convoy had set off and was then reportedly blocked by pro-Government militia. This is inexcusable.”

www.ohchr.org