December 15, 2016 / 6:00 PM / 3 years ago

Britain summons Russian, Iranian ambassadors over Aleppo

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends a joint news conference with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (not seen) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday he had summoned the ambassadors of Russia and Iran to convey his “profound disquiet” over events in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

An operation to evacuate thousands of civilians and fighters from the last rebel bastion in Aleppo began earlier on Thursday, part of a ceasefire deal that would end years of fighting for the city and mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been backed by Russia and Iran.

Johnson expressed concern at reports of executions, ambulances being shot at and “disappearances” of opponents by pro-regime forces.

“Both Russia and Iran have failed to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, specifically by failing to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians during the months when eastern Aleppo was besieged,” Johnson said in a statement.

“They deserve no credit for the fact that an evacuation appears to be underway today,” he added.

“Having inflicted such suffering on the people of eastern Aleppo, Iran and Russia cannot expect praise for allowing some people to escape at the final hour.”

He said the Russian and Iranian governments were prolonging the suffering of the Syrian people through their support for the Syrian regime.

Reporting by Stephen Addison, Editing by Paul Sandle

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