The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to launch an "independent special inquiry" into events in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where the top UN rights official says air strikes constitute war crimes.
The 47-member state Geneva forum adopted a resolution, submitted by Britain along with Western and Arab allies, by a vote of 24 states in favour, 7 against with 16 abstentions. Russia and China were among those voting against the resolution.
The Council asked the existing UN commission of inquiry to "conduct a comprehensive independent special inquiry into the events in Aleppo" to identify those responsible for alleged violations and to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has demanded an end to attacks by Syrian and Russian forces on the city, saying the European Union will take measures against both if the "barbaric" campaign continues.
"We demand an end to the attacks. We have not only said that we could not only impose sanctions against Syria but also sanctions against all who are allied with Syria. This applies to Russia," Merkel said in Brussels on Friday.
EU leaders condemned Russia for its bombing of civilians in the besieged city, but faced resistance from Italy to impose new sanctions against Moscow over the atrocities.