February 26, 2021

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Damascus, Moscow accused of ‘war crimes’ in northwestern Syria

Schools and clinics in northwestern Syria were targeted in 18 attacks between April last year and February, according to Amnesty International. The rights group accuses Syria’s regime and Russian forces of “war crimes.”

Amnesty International on Monday accused Syria and Russia of a “myriad of serious violations of international humanitarian law” in the northwest of the war-ravaged country.

Citing 18 air and ground attacks between April 2019 and late February 2020, the rights group blamed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and allied Russian forces which have retaken swathes of Syria and encroached on Idlib, an enclave crowded with 3 million civilians and rebels, near the border with Turkey.

Drawing on interviews with 70 people, including United Nations staff, and using  satellite imagery and radio traffic, Amnesty’s regional director Heba Morayef said the attacks were “aimed at terrorizing the civilian population.”

Most attacks happened this year

The majority of attacks had occurred this past January and February, said Amnesty, during an onslaught that began in December which left 500 civilians dead and displaced almost a million people.

The report highlights Russian airstrikes near a hospital in the town of Ariha on January 29 that flattened at least two residential buildings, killing, it said, 11 civilians.

In two attacks, Syrian troops had used the method of barrel bombing, said Amnesty, also blaming the Syrian regime for a recent cluster bomb attack on a school.

That incident in Idlib city on February 25 killed three people, said Amnesty, citing an abhorrent pattern of widespread and systematic attacks.”

Syria’s war began in 2011 and has left more than 380,000 people dead and displaced millions. From 2015, Russian jets allied with Assad began attacking rebel areas.

ipj/mm (dpa, AFP)