Gulf Arab states call on U.N. to intervene to stop Aleppo assault

People inspect a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel held Sheikh Fares neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

DOHA (Reuters) - The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) demanded on Saturday that the U.N. intervene in Syria to stop aerial bombardments of the city of Aleppo that it said were killing hundreds of civilians.

The Sunni Muslim dominated council - representing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar - said a Syrian government offensive on the city was systematically destroying neighborhoods and a “flagrant aggression contrary to international laws.”

“The Secretary-General ... demands that the UN Security Council intervene immediately to stop the aggression on the city of Aleppo and end the suffering of the Syrian people,” the GCC said in a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA.

It called on the United Nations to “implement relevant council resolutions over the Syria crisis.”

For 10 days a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive has been underway to capture eastern Aleppo and crush the last urban stronghold of a revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that began in 2011.

The collapse of the latest Syria ceasefire has heightened the possibility that Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar might arm Syrian rebels with shoulder-fired missiles to defend themselves against Syrian and Russian warplanes, U.S. officials said on Monday.

France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he was working to put forward a U.N. Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in Aleppo, and that any country that opposed it would be deemed complicit in war crimes.

The United States continues to maintain that negotiations are the only way to end the carnage.

But frustration with Washington has intensified, raising the possibility that Gulf allies - key backers of Syrian rebels - or Turkey will no longer continue to follow the U.S. lead or will turn a blind eye to wealthy individuals looking to supply man-portable air defence systems, or MANPADS, to opposition groups.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Tom Finn; Editing by Tom Brown