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Russia killed 'hundreds' of civilians in Syria: report

 LONDON (AVRUPA TIMES) Russian airstrikes in Syria have "killed hundreds of civilians in Syria" and present evidence of violations of international humanitarian law", said  Amnesty International in a report published on Wednesday. The report includes evidence suggesting that Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage.


The research also shows evidence that Russians have used unguided bombs in densely populated civilian areas, as well as internationally banned deadly cluster munitions.


 According to the Amnesty report, the airstrikes caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a  busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law.  


The report called "‘Civilian objects were not damaged’: Russia’s statements on its attacks in Syria unmasked " focuses on 25 attacks - "researched remotely" - between Sept. 30 and Nov. 29. As a result of the attacks, at least 200 civilians killed compared to a dozen fighters, the report stated. 


“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," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. "Such attacks may amount to war crimes.” 


The report also included testimonies of eyewitnesses and survivors of attacks as well as examination of video evidence and images showing the aftermath of attacks, aided by analysis from weapons experts.


In one of the attacks on Oct. 15 mentioned in the report, at least 46 civilians, including 32 children and 11 women who were in the basement of a residential building, were killed in al-Ghantu, in the Homs governorate. In another attack on a busy market in the center of Ariha of the Idlib governorate, 49 civilians were killed. 


The research also examines the reactions of Russian authorities to the investigations.


"Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage," the report suggests. 


Reactions regarding an attack on the Omar Bin al-Khattab mosque in central Jisr al-Shughour, Idlib governorate, on Oct. 1 "raises serious questions about the tactics they are prepared to deploy to undermine criticism of their operations", the research states.


According to the investigation, after reports and photos of the destroyed mosque emerged, the Russian authorities presented "a satellite image purporting to show the mosque still intact". "However, the mosque shown in the image was a different one from the one destroyed in the attack," said Amnesty International.


“By presenting satellite imagery of an intact mosque and claiming it showed another that had been destroyed, the Russian authorities appear to have used sleight of hand to try to avoid reproach and avert scrutiny of their actions in Syria. Such conduct does not cultivate confidence in their willingness to investigate reported violations in good faith," said Phillip Hunter. 

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