Russian strikes kill 9 civilians in Syria

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence search for survivors after a reported airstrike by pro-government forces on the village of Shinan in the northwestern Idlib province. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 November 2019

Russian strikes kill 9 civilians in Syria

  • Three women were among the victims
  • Sunday’s airstrike hit the village of Mallaja in Idlib province

BEIRUT: Airstrikes by Syrian regime ally Russia on Sunday killed nine civilians in the opposition-run enclave of Idlib in the northwest of the country, a war monitor said.
Five of the victims died in the village of Al-Malaja in southern Idlib province while the other four were killed in raids on the town of Saraqeb in the east, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A number of people were wounded, some seriously, the monitor’s head, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP, though he was unable to say how many.
The Idlib region, home to around 3 million people including many displaced by Syria’s eight-year civil war, is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham opposition alliance also controls parts of neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
The region is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces of Syria’s Bashar Assad. A cease-fire announced by Russia has largely held since late August.
But the Observatory says 48 civilians — including 16 children — have been killed in Russian airstrikes on the region since the start of November.

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48 - civilians, including 16 children, have been killed in Russian airstrikes on the region since the start of November, says the Observatory.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria, says it determines who carries out an airstrike according to flight patterns, as well as aircraft and the munitions involved.
Last month Assad said Idlib was standing in the way of an end to the civil war that has ravaged his country.
Syria’s conflict has killed 370,000 people and displaced millions since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.


Syrian, Russian airstrikes in Idlib amount to war crimes, as do extremist attacks — UN

Updated 38 min 33 sec ago

Syrian, Russian airstrikes in Idlib amount to war crimes, as do extremist attacks — UN

  • UN blames Syrian, Russian planes for bombing schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib

GENEVA: Syrian and Russian planes have carried out deadly aerial strikes amounting to war crimes on schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib province, UN investigators said on Tuesday in a report that also condemned attacks by extremist fighters.
They said that “indiscriminate bombardment” by pro-government forces, ahead of a March cease-fire brokered with Turkey, claimed hundreds of lives and forced nearly one million civilians to flee, which may amount to a crime against humanity.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria also accused Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a extremist group that controls part of northwest Syria, of firing artillery into civilian areas “with no apparent legitimate military objective.”
Fighters from HTS, a group formerly known as Nusra Front, have tortured and executed detainees, it added.
“What is clear from the military campaign is that pro-government forces and UN-designated terrorists flagrantly violated the laws of war and the rights of Syrian civilians,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN panel, said in a statement.
The report, covering Nov. 2019 until June 2020, was based on overflight data and witness testimony.
It examines 52 “emblematic attacks” in northwest Syria, including 47 attributed to the Russian-backed Syrian government.
Russian warplanes were solely implicated in a deadly March 5 strike on a poultry farm near Marat Misrin that sheltered displaced people and in three strikes next to a hospital damaged in the rebel-held town of Ariha on Jan. 29, the report said. Russia denies involvement in the latter attack, it said.
The region is home to a mix of Islamist militant and opposition groups, many of which fled other parts of Syria as President Bashar Assad, with Russian backing, seized back territory from them.
“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that pro-government forces committed the war crimes of deliberately attacking medical personnel and facilities by conducting airstrikes,” it said.
Karen Koning AbuZayd, a panel member, said: “Women, men and children that we interviewed faced the ghastly choice of being bombarded or fleeing deeper into HTS-controlled areas where there are rampant abuses of human rights...
“The acts by HTS members amount to war crimes.”