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Formation of a commission of inquiry into the bombing of hospitals in Syria (UN)

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday he had set up an internal inquiry into the bombing of hospitals in Syria that revealed its geographical coordinates for not being targeted.

A UN statement said the commission would investigate “a series of incidents in northwest Syria” since Russia and Turkey announced the establishment of a zone to reduce tension in Idlib on September 17, 2018.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the commission’s task was to “determine the facts of the secretary-general,” adding that it was not a “criminal investigation” but did not announce the commission’s findings, without specifying a deadline for the submission of its report.

Guterres “urges all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the commission,” which is due to begin its work on September 30, the statement said.

The panel is chaired by Nigerian General Shikadipia Obiakor and has two members, Janet Lim of Singapore and Miria Santos Pace of Portugal. The members are assisted by two experts, Peruvian general Fernando Ordonez and former Swiss Red Cross official Pierre Ritter.

Many UN-linked medical facilities have been hit since spring. Russia denied it had targeted civilian facilities.

Human Rights Watch called for the Commission to “expedite the identification of those responsible for the attacks” and to declare its findings.

At the end of July, 10 members of the UN Security Council – Germany, France, Belgium, Britain, the United States, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and the Dominican Republic – called for an investigation, angering Moscow, diplomats said.

Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Karen Pierce, welcomed the committee.

“The developments in the Hama and Idlib areas of northwestern Syria are a repetition of the military tactics used by Syrian forces in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta,” she said, stressing support for a draft UN resolution demanding a ceasefire in the northwest.

The project, initiated by Kuwait, Belgium and Germany, has been under consultation since the end of August. Diplomats predicted it would be voted on next week, noting that Russia, despite its participation in the negotiations, said it was unnecessary to issue a decision that Damascus and Moscow declared a ceasefire at the end of August.

Russia wants the draft resolution to include exceptions to “counter-terrorism” operations, which Westerners do not support, the sources said.

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