HRW accuses Syria-Russia alliance of committing crimes against humanity
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Syria-Russia alliance of committing possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by attacking civilians in rebel-held Idlib province and called for sanctions against top military officials.
The 167-page report looked at ground strikes in the region between April 2019 and March 2020 and concluded that the strategy to take back the city from anti-government forces contravened the laws of war.
The report, titled Targeting Life in Idlib, Syrian and Russian Strikes on Civilian infrastructure, documents and examined 46 attacks on civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals in the rebel-held area during the 11-month offensive. The 46 attacks “represent only a fraction of the total military campaign in Idlib and surrounding areas”.
The attacks also damaged at least five markets, four displaced people’s camps, four residential neighborhoods, two commercial areas, and a prison, a church, a stadium, and an NGO office.
The investigation found no evidence of military targets in the vicinity at the time of the strikes, nor did witnesses report any warnings before the attacks began.
The report also named 10 senior Syrian and Russian officials, who may be “command responsible” for the war crimes. The list included Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Syria and Russia have said the offensive in Idlib was a response to repeated attacks on their forces by anti-government armed groups and an effort to counter “terrorism”. Senior Syrian and Russian officials have denied their operations violated the laws of war.