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Obama denounces Aleppo ‘horror’

ALEPPO, Syria (AFP) – Responsibility for atrocities committed in Aleppo lies with Syria and its Russian and Iranian backers, US President Barack Obama said Friday as Damascus suspended the evacuation of civilians and fighters from the city’s last rebel-held areas.

Denouncing the “horror’’ in Aleppo, Obama called for impartial observers and warned President Bashar al-Assad that he would not be able to “slaughter his way to legitimacy’’.

“The world as we speak is united in horror at the savage assault by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian regime on the city of Aleppo,’’ he told an end-of-year news conference.

“This blood and these atrocities are on their hands.’’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier warned that Aleppo had become “a synonym for hell’’ and said the United Nations urged “all necessary measures’’ for a safe resumption of the evacuation.

The Security Council could vote as early as this weekend on a French-drafted proposal to allow international observers in Aleppo and ensure urgent aid deliveries.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said after a closed-door council meeting that UN officials were ready to be sent quickly to Aleppo.

“The presence of independent observers can deter some of the worst horrors,’’ she said.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said: “The immediate priority is to save lives, to stop the massacres and to avoid a new Srebrenica,’’ referring to the massacre of Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, argued that it would take weeks to send monitors to Aleppo.

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