DUBAI (Reuters) - The Arab states of the Gulf, including regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, condemned on Tuesday what they described as “the barbaric shelling” of Aleppo and called on the United Nations to move quickly to provide relief to the Syrian people.
Their statement comes as the rebel hold on Aleppo appeared to end, after months of bitter siege and bloody fighting. As resistance crumbled, reports emerged that Syrian soldiers and allied Iraqi fighters had shot dead 82 civilians in recaptured Aleppo districts, the U.N. said.
“The Gulf Cooperation Council states strongly denounce the killing, siege and starvation that the ancient and historic city of Aleppo is subjected to as a violation of all humanitarian rights guaranteed by international law,” the GCC said in a statement issued by its secretary-general, Abdullatif al-Zayani.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- both members of the six-nation alliance of Gulf Arab states -- have been among the main supporters of the Syrian rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s top religious body, had earlier condemned what it said were “criminal massacres” by the Syrian government of civilians in Aleppo and called on the Islamic world to help save fellow Muslims.
“The criminal Syrian regime has committed the ugliest crimes in a way unknown in modern history, where the bodies of the dead fill the streets and under the rubble of destroyed buildings,” the secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
“The savage bombardment harvests lives everywhere, including in hospitals and houses of worship, while the international community is helpless or ineffective to take any decision to deter this criminal machine,” it said.
SPA said the Council of Senior Scholars secretariat appealed to the Muslim world “to rise in support of its causes and stand with all its energy for its rights”.
Qatar, another main supporter of the rebels, has also called for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the situation in Aleppo, Doha-based Al Jazeera television reported.
Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Larry King