Turkey condemns Russian strikes on civilians in Syria
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Russian Tu-22 bombers escorted by the Su-27s fighter jets drop bombs on a target in Syria. AP PhotoTurkey has slammed Russia for conducting aerial strikes on civilians near the Syrian city of Aleppo that claimed the lives of at least 30 people, also calling on the international community to condemn Moscow.
“I strongly condemn Russia’s attacks on civilian residential areas. These attacks are completely inhumane,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told state-run Anadolu Agency on Jan. 12.
Russia’s recently intensified aerial campaign west of Aleppo has targeted a number of residential areas, including schools, leading to civilian casualties and estimates that around 30 people including students have been killed.
“Syria is being destroyed. While we should all work with great effort to stop the conflict, there are some who are unfortunately fueling the fire,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Forty people have died of starvation in the town of Madaya in Syria because of a blockade enforced by the Bashar al-Assad regime, while residents in Zabadani and Muaddamiya are also under threat, he also said.
“Targeting civilians and causing the death of children, babies and women constitute a war crime. This has no place in humanity or in conscience,” he stated.
Russia’s military operations since Sept. 30 have only targeted civilians, Çavuşoğlu said.
“Russia’s acts are making efforts for a political solution in Syria more difficult. It’s time for the international community to raise its voice and react against Russia’s attacks on civilians,” he added.
US, UN ‘concerned’ over Russian airstrikes in Syria
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about reports of civilian casualties from Russian airstrikes and collateral damage to civilian facilities.
“We continue to remain concerned about reports of civilian casualties caused by Russian airstrikes and collateral damage, damage done to facilities that are used or primarily for innocent civilians, whether it’s schools, hospitals or homes,” State Department spokesman John Kirby has said.
“This remains a concern, what they’re hitting and just as importantly, what they’re not hitting.”
Kirby quoted reports stating that 70 percent of Russian airstrikes were conducted against either opposition groups or innocent targets.
“If [the reports] are true, they’re certainly deeply, deeply concerning and they’re not - those reports are not inconsistent with other credible reports we’ve received about hitting or - and striking innocent civilian targets,” he added.
The State Department’s comments come after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that 17 people, including eight children, were killed and 20 others were injured in a Russian airstrike that hit a school in Aleppo on Jan. 10.
The strike followed a series of air raids Jan. 9 on the opposition-held Maarat al-Numan district in northwestern Idlib province. The attacks, blamed on Russian warplanes, left dozens of civilians dead, according to activists.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concerned about reports of a deadly Russian airstrike on a school in northern Syria, a UN spokesman said on Jan. 11.
“If confirmed, today’s attack would be a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in response to a question by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
“The Secretary-General calls this and other similar attacks to be properly, effectively and independently investigated as to ensure more accountability,” said Dujarric, noting that a recently adopted Security Council resolution “specifically demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructures such as hospitals and schools.”