Two months of Russia raids in Syria kill 1,500: Monitor
BEIRUT – Agence France-Presse
A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defence Ministry November 26, 2015, shows a Russian S-400 defense missile system driving out of a cargo plane at Hmeymim airbase in Syria. REUTERS PhotoRussian air strikes in support of the Syrian government have killed more than 1,500 people, a third of them civilians, since they began two months ago, a monitor said on Nov. 30.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian raids that began on Sept. 30 have killed 419 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters as well as 598 from Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups.
But the raids also killed 485 civilians, including 117 children and 47 women, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Russia has long been a staunch ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and has backed him throughout the uprising that began in March 2011.
It stepped up its support with an aerial campaign that it says targets ISIL jihadists and other “terrorists.”
Syrian opposition forces accuse Moscow of targeting moderate and Islamist rebels rather than jihadists.
More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, according to the Observatory.
Meanwhile, air strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian jets killed at least 30 people in the town of Ariha in northwestern Syria on Nov. 29, rescue workers in the rebel-held area said, part of an escalation of Russian strikes near the Turkish border, according to Reuters.
In separate air strikes closer to the frontier with Turkey, jets believed to be Russian hit a truck depot that was also struck on Nov. 26, destroying 10 trailers and killing five people, a rebel in the area said.
Officials at the Russian defense ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Syrians in rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria near the Turkish frontier have reported intensified air strikes in the days since Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the border on Nov. 24.
The air strike on Ariha in Idlib province wounded dozens more people, striking a market place, the rescue workers said. Mohamed Queissi, a rescue worker with the Civil Defense service which operates in rebel-held areas, said the bodies of 31 people had been identified, with 12 more awaiting identification.
“The vendors were shouting loudly as people were buying and selling and suddenly we heard the sound of the planes and in less than a second the jets struck and there was deadly silence.
“I saw people thrown in the street, strewn corpses and terrified children crying and shouting for their parents,” said Mohamed Amine Qurabi, 25, a second Civil Defense worker.
Both were contacted by Reuters and spoke from Ariha.