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Amnesty: Russia air strikes, civilian bombing coverups may violate humanitarian law
Amnesty: Russia air strikes, civilian bombing coverups may violate humanitarian law

[JURIST] Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed numerous structures in residential areas that may amount to violations of international humanitarian law, according to a new briefing [report] published by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday. In six attacks occurring between September and November 2015, over 200 civilians were killed and a mosque, market and medical facilities were struck. According to AI, Russia has engaged in a cover-up of the civilian and residential bombings, claiming they strike only terrorist targets and denying accusations that they have killed civilians. AI also has evidence that Russia may have used unguided bombs in residential areas, in addition to internationally banned deadly cluster munitions. “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,” AI Middle East and North Africa Director Phillip Luther [official Twitter] said. “Russia must end indiscriminate and other unlawful attacks. They must halt all use of cluster munitions and stop dropping unguided bombs on civilian areas.”

The conflict in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] has continued for five years in a civil war based around the legitimacy of President Bashar al-Assad [BBC reports]. Massive numbers of refugees have attempted to flee the fighting by entering Europe, prompting UN officials to urge a global response [JURIST report] to the crisis. Earlier this month the UN Security Council adopted [JURIST report] a resolution outlining 15 steps for peace in Syria. Also in December the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic [official website] issued its latest report on the civil war in Syria, saying that Syrian civilians are facing war crimes and crimes against humanity [JURIST report] with “no end in sight.”