`Aleppo civilians at risk from aerial attacks`

Human Rights Watch researchers conducted a week-long field investigation in northern Aleppo province in early August.

Updated: Aug 11, 2012, 15:36 PM IST

Dubai: Civilians in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo are increasingly at a risk from aerial attacks, artillery shelling and gunfire, a top global rights watchdog has warned.

Commanders of Syrian government forces and the opposition Free Syrian Army should ensure that their troops abide by the laws of war and never target civilians or conduct indiscriminate attacks, the Human Rights Watch said in a statement here.

Human Rights Watch researchers conducted a week-long field investigation in northern Aleppo province in early August, and are continuing to gather information at the Syrian border in Turkey, where many Aleppo residents have fled.

"As Syria deploys helicopters, fighter jets, tanks, and heavy artillery in populated areas of Aleppo, it should do everything feasible to protect civilians from harm," Anna Neistat, the acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said.

"At the same time, the Free Syrian Army forces in and around the city should do what they can to minimise the risk to civilians in the fighting," he said.

Human Rights Watch issued a Question and Answer Document on August 10, to provide legal guidance on the fighting to the parties to the conflict and those with the capacity to influence them.

Dozens of families from the Aleppo neighbourhoods of Hanano, Shaar, Bab al Nerab, Sikari, Al Marjeh, Salah el Din, Sakhour, and Fardous, among other places had fled their neighbourhoods after government forces subjected the areas to intensive shelling and aerial attacks, the watchdog said.

The number of civilian casualties in Aleppo and the surrounding area is impossible to verify, the organisation said.

PTI