Amnesty International claims surge in indiscriminate bombings since Russian airstrikes began, including on residential areas and medical facilities
Beirut, Associated Press, 23 December 2015
Amnesty International accused Russia of using cluster munitions and unguided bombs on civilian areas in Syria in attacks that it says have killed hundreds of people in the past few months.
The report by the human rights watchdog said there has been a surge in reports of cluster munitions dropped in areas targeted by Russian forces since Moscow formally joined the conflict on 30 September.
Cluster munitions are by nature indiscriminate and often leave unexploded bomblets on the ground. These can maim and kill civilians long after the cessation of hostilities.
The report focuses on six attacks in Homs, Idlib and Aleppo provinces between September and November which it says killed at least 200 civilians. It denounced Russia’s “shameful failure” to acknowledge civilian killings.
“Some Russian airstrikes 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 Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program. “Such attacks may amount to war crimes,” he said.
The accusations follow a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch last week which said cluster munitions were used on at least 20 occasions since Syria and Russia began their joint offensive at the end of September.
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,” Peskov told reporters.