Russia’s War Crimes in Syria, Amnesty Reported
Since September 30th 2015, Russia’s armed forces formally intervened in the armed conflict in Syria on the side of the Syrian government. Since then, Russia authorities saying Russian attacks in Syria including air strikes, was acting at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Marking Islamic States (IS) and other groups called terrorists as a target, Russia has described thousands of attacks across the country and attacked thousands of locations as “terrorist” targets. The Russian authorities have claimed that their armed forces are only striking “terrorist” targets. However, according to Syrian human rights organizations, Russian attacks in Syria appear to have actually killed hundreds of civilians.
According to Amnesty International Report for Russian attacks in Syria, at least 200 civilians were killed in Russian air strikes between September 30th 2015 and November 29th 2015. The report focuses on six attacks in Homs, Idlib and Aleppo provinces, which five of the attacks suspected Russian air strikes targeted residential areas, and the sixth attack concerns air strikes with the hospital as a target. For that reason, Amnesty International accuses Russia have committed war crimes by killing civilians in Syria. The director of Amnesty International, Philip Luther said :
“Some Russian air strikes appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians,”
“Such attacks may amount to war crimes,”
By targeting hospital and residential areas but had no obvious military target nearby, it denounced Russia’s “shameful failure” to acknowledge civilian killings. For example the attack on November 29th, when Russian warplane fired three missiles into a busy public market in Ariha, Idlib province, which causing 49 civilians killed. The activist, Mohammed Qurabi al-Ghazal, told Amnesty :
“It was a normal Sunday; there was nothing unusual. People were buying goods; children were eating,” “First there was a loud explosion – dirt flying in the air – followed immediately by shock. In just a few moments, people were screaming, the smell of burning was in the air and there was just chaos.”
He said the armed group Jaysh al-Fateh controlled the area, but did not have any presence inside Ariha. The Russian authorities have neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for this attack on Ariha.
Russia’s defense ministry dismissed Amnesty’s report as containing “fake information” and “trite cliches”. They also rejected Amnesty’s accusations about cluster bombs. When asked on Monday about allegations that Russia is using cluster bombs, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military in Syria operates in line with international law.
“Russia is conducting its operation in strict conformity with principles and norms of the international law, including those sections of the international law that regulate using and bans on using one or another type of weapons,”
However, Amnesty International believes that serious violations of international humanitarian law are war crimes and those who commit or order war crimes are individually responsible and must be brought to justice.