Russian air strikes in Syria have killed at least 200 civilians.
That is the conclusion of a report by campaign group Amnesty International.
Russia 'directly targeting civilians' in possible Syria war crimes https://t.co/gGsPtkRWYM— The Independent (@Independent) December 23, 2015
How has the evidence been obtained?
Amnesty says it has carried out “remote research” relating to six attacks in Homs, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo.
The group says it has interviewed 16 witnesses over the telephone or via the Internet.
Audiovisual material has also been gathered. Advice has been commissioned from weapons experts.
Amnesty: Russia may have committed war crimes by killing civilians in Syria https://t.co/d4y8KBnJUa— Angus MacKinnon (@AngusM1966) December 23, 2015
Researchers say the report refers to six attacks in Homs, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo between September and November 2015 “which killed at least 200 civilians and around a dozen fighters.”
The briefing includes “evidence suggesting that Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage to a mosque from one air strike and a field hospital in another.”
It also documents “evidence suggesting Russia’s use of internationally banned cluster munitions and of unguided bombs in populated residential areas.”
Is this a war crime?
Amnesty says Russia’s bombing of Syria may amount to a war crime because of the number of civilians killed.
“Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law” said Philip Luther, the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
The response from Moscow
CNN International (@cnni) December 20, 2015
As yet, there has been no official comment on the report from officials in Moscow.
However, Russia has repeatedly denied causing the deaths of civilians and takes great care to avoid bombing residential areas.
Officials claim the reports of fatalities are part of an information campaign aimed at discrediting its involvement in the Syrian conflict.