GENEVA, 11th February, 2016 (WAM) — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed “utmost alarm” at the rapidly worsening human rights situation in and around the city of Aleppo and other parts of Syria, where, he said, “shocking violations and abuses are committed on a daily basis.”

“I condemn these horrendous acts unequivocally,” he said. “The warring parties in Syria are constantly sinking to new depths, without apparently caring in the slightest about the death and destruction they are wreaking across the country. Women and children, the elderly, the wounded and sick, people with disabilities, are being used as bargaining chips and cannon fodder day after day, week after week, month after month. It is a grotesque situation.”

“Since the latest offensive by Government forces began last week in the Governorate of Aleppo, reportedly accompanied by numerous air strikes by Russian and Syrian aircraft, some 51,000 civilians have been displaced and a further 300,000 are at risk of being placed under siege,” Zeid said, adding that dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed since 1st February. “We have also received numerous reports of destruction of civilian infrastructure, including at least three clinics and two bakeries since the launch of this latest round of hostilities,” he said.

The High Commissioner stressed that hundreds of thousands of civilians in other parts of Syria are also facing dire humanitarian conditions, particularly those under sieges imposed both by Government forces and affiliated armed groups, and by armed opposition groups, including Daesh.

Zeid also stressed that all the parties to a conflict have obligations under international humanitarian law not to place the civilian population in peril by taking shelter amongst them, or in protected structures such as schools and hospitals.

“The peace talks in Geneva must be resumed as early as possible,” he said. “It is unconscionable that the various parties cannot even manage to sit around the table, when, because of their actions, more than a quarter of a million people have died, and the rest of the population is suffering to such a degree. A lasting peaceful resolution of this horrific war must be built on a solid foundation of human rights.”