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Over 200 human rights groups call for emergency UN session on Syria

The groups say the bombing campaign deliberately targeted medical facilities, included the use of cluster bombs, and killed more than 440 civilians -- including over 90 children.

Syrians, who fled from rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo, sit around a fire on November 30, 2016, at a shelter in the neighberhood of Jibrin, east of Aleppo.

AFP PHOTO / Youssef KARWASHANYOUSSEF KARWASHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Syrians, who fled from rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo, sit around a fire on November 30, 2016, at a shelter in the neighberhood of Jibrin, east of Aleppo.

Expressing frustration at the U.N. Security Council's inability to stop the bombardment of the besieged Syrian City of Aleppo, a coalition of over 200 human rights groups is calling for the General Assembly to hold an emergency special session to demand an end to the attacks.

Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International's U.N. office, said the 223 human rights and civil society organizations from 45 countries who have signed on in support of the appeal were just "a small but very potent indication of the frustration we all feel about the inability of the world body to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people."

Syrian residents of eastern rebel-held parts of Aleppo walk through the Kadi Askar district as they leave their homes for a safer place in a distinct rebel-controlled area on November 30, 2016, during a Syrian army offensive on the eastern sectors of the divided city.

THAER MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian residents of eastern rebel-held parts of Aleppo walk through the Kadi Askar district as they leave their homes for a safer place in a distinct rebel-controlled area on November 30, 2016, during a Syrian army offensive on the eastern sectors of the divided city.

"The Security Council has failed the Syrian people for the past six years and the principle organ of the United Nations that was in fact created to maintain international peace and security is unable, unfit, unwilling to do so," Tadros said. We are calling on member states of the General Assembly to step up and request an emergency special session."

The appeal comes after Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution demanding an end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo on Oct. 8, effectively blocking action in the 15-member Security Council, where it is one of five permanent, veto-holding members.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Alanya, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Human rights groups are accusing the Russian-Syrian coalition of committing war crimes during the civil war, now in its sixth year.

Ibrahim Laleli/DHA via AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Alanya, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Human rights groups are accusing the Russian-Syrian coalition of committing war crimes during the civil war, now in its sixth year.

Now, human rights groups are calling on member states to bring the matter before the full 193-member General Assembly, whose resolution are non-binding but sends a strong message from the international community.

The groups accuse the Russian-Syrian coalition of committing war crimes during the civil war, now in its sixth year, and especially month-long bombing campaign in eastern Aleppo where nearly a quarter of a million people continue to live under siege.

The groups said the bombing campaign deliberately targeted medical facilities, included the use of cluster bombs and incendiary weapons and killed more than 440 civilians, including over 90 children.

Syrians who fled from rebel-held areas in east Aleppo gather on December 1, 2016 at a warehouse turned into shelter in Duweirineh, a small village on the eastern outskirts of the embattled city.

GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images

Syrians who fled from rebel-held areas in east Aleppo gather on December 1, 2016 at a warehouse turned into shelter in Duweirineh, a small village on the eastern outskirts of the embattled city.

Louis Charbonneau, United Nations Director for Human Rights Watch, said that even though General Assembly resolutions don't have the force of international law, they could take a number of actions including the appointment a prosecutor to collect evidence of war crimes for eventual trials.

"We just want them to move in the direction of accountability and any step they (the General Assembly) take in that direction will send a very strong message to the parties to the conflict that someday they may have to pay for what they're doing," Charbonneau said.