UN investigators accuse Russia of potential war crime in Syria

UN investigators accuse Russia of potential war crime in Syria

UN investigators on Tuesday reported [press release] that Russian airstrikes on a Syrian market that killed more than 80 civilians last year may constitute a war crime.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria [official website] stated that on November 13 “the Russian Air Force carried out airstrikes on a densely populated civilian area in Atareb (Aleppo), killing at least 84 people and injuring another 150. Using unguided weapons, the attack struck a market, police station, shops, and a restaurant.”

The Commission says that while there is no evidence to indicate that the Russian attack deliberately targeted civilians, “the use of unguided bombs, including blast weapons, in a densely civilian populated area may amount to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks resulting in death and injury to civilians.”

While offensives to defeat Islamic State (IS) insurgents throughout Syria appear to have successfully dislodged the terrorist group, the battles came at an extremely high cost to civilians. “Aerial and ground operations to defeat [IS] further triggered one of the single largest waves of internally displaced persons since the inception of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian men, women, and children from Ar-Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr fled clashes only to relocate to desert camps in northern Syria.”

The report states, “since the inception of the Syrian conflict, attacks against civilian and protected objects by all parties have been a grotesque feature, in violation of international humanitarian law.”