Amnesty International accuses Syria and Russia of war crimes

Amnesty International accused the Syrian regime and its Russian ally of "War crimes", after documenting 18 attacks in the past year on schools and medical centers in northwestern Syria. This region where the province of Idleb is located, the last great jihadist bastion and rebel of the country at war, has benefited from a precarious cease-fire since the beginning of March, after several months of a deadly offensive of the regime supported by the aviation of Moscow.

The operation relaunched in December, which was accompanied by almost daily air strikes, claimed nearly a million IDPs, but also nearly 500 civilian deaths, according to the Syrian Observatory of human rights (OSDH). Between 5 May 2019 and 25 February 2020, Amnesty International claims to have documented 18 attacks on medical facilities and schools, carried out by forces of Bashar Al-Assad or the Russian forces.

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"The evidence shows that, as a whole, the documented attacks by Syrian and Russian government forces involve a myriad of serious violations of international humanitarian law", lambasted Amnesty in a 40-page report. "These violations are equivalent to war crimes", adds the London-based organization.

Bombed schools and hospitals

The NGO accuses the forces of the regime and of Russia of having "Intentionally directed attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools". The majority of the attacks, not only against Idleb but also against insurgent territories in neighboring provinces of Aleppo or Hama, took place in January and February 2020, Amnesty said.

The NGO reports on Russian aerial bombardments near a hospital in the city of Ariha on January 29, which destroyed at least two residential buildings and killed 11 civilians. Amnesty accuses the regime of attacking a school in the city of Idleb on February 25 with cluster munitions – prohibited by international law – and thus killed three people.

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"The latest offensive has perpetuated a heinous pattern of widespread and systematic attacks, the aim of which is to terrorize the civilian population"said the regional director of Amnesty, Heba Morayef, quoted in the press release. "Russia has continued to provide invaluable military support (to the regime), including by directly conducting illegal air strikes" and this support "Facilitates" the "War crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian military. "

The Idleb region is home to three million civilians, half of whom have already been displaced from other areas recaptured by the regime. The war in Syria, launched in 2011 with the repression by the power of pro-democracy demonstrations, has left more than 380,000 dead and displaced millions of people.

The World with AFP


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