Russian, regime raids kill 58 civilians in Syria

Published 26.06.2016 23:22
Updated 26.06.2016 23:25
Syrian Civil Defence members evacuate a child from the rubble of a building destroyed following Russian airstrikes a day earlier on the northwestern city of Idlib on May 31.
Syrian Civil Defence members evacuate a child from the rubble of a building destroyed following Russian airstrikes a day earlier on the northwestern city of Idlib on May 31.

Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes killed 58 civilians and injured dozens in the southeastern city of Deir Ezzor. Several hospital sources claimed cluster bombs were used against civilians

At least 82 people including 58 civilians were killed during airstrikes launched by Russia and the Assad regime on a DAESH-held area of eastern Syria, a monitor said Sunday in the latest death toll in the Syrian war.

The warplanes struck residential areas in the town of al-Quriyah and then struck again with cluster bombs when civilians gathered to rescue the victims, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity for safety.

"Three Russian and Syrian regime air raids on the region of Al-Quriyah, southeast of Deir Ezzor city, killed 58 civilians," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It added that 24 other people were killed, without specifying whether they were civilians or DAESH extremists. The Britain-based Observatory, which has a network of sources in Syria, initially reported that 47 people including 31 civilians died in the raids around Al-Quriyah.

The monitor says it determines the identity of planes that planes carried out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

Russian warplanes have been carrying out an air war in support of President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.

DAESH holds around 60 percent of Deir Ezzor city, the capital of the province of the same name, which is next to the extremist-held Raqqa province.

On June 5, a civil defense official said Russian Syrian regime airstrikes killed 18 civilians in a strike on residential areas between Aleppo and Idlib. Ibrahim Abu Laith told Anadolu Agency (AA) that aircraft dropped thermobaric and barrel bombs on opposition-held neighborhoods. "At least 18 civilians were killed and 50 others injured, including women and children," he said.

Thermobaric bombs are far more destructive thatn conventional explosives due to their extremely powerful blast while barrel bombs are improvised devices that have been used to devastating effect in Syria, where they are typically dropped by helicopter on residential districts.

Abu Laith said homes on Castello Road linking the contested city of Aleppo with opposition-held Idlib were targeted as well as rural areas north of Aleppo. "Civil defense teams are struggling to reach the bombed areas," he said, accusing Bashar al-Assad's regime and Russia of committing massacres in Aleppo.

"We appeal to world public opinion to pile pressure on the regime to halt its attacks on the city," he said.

Last week, the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to launch an investigation into their assertions that Russia has repeatedly used air-delivered incendiary weapons in Syria.

"Russian air forces have repeatedly deployed incendiary weapons and cluster munitions to kill, main and terrorize Syrian civilians, including in at least 10 documented incidents," Riad Hijab, coordinator of the opposition HNC, wrote to Ban. "They have violated the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and breached international humanitarian law," he wrote. Hijab alleged that "thermite, which ignites while falling, has been likened to 'mini nuclear bombs' and was deployed repeatedly by Russian forces in residential areas." He also accused Russian forces of using cluster munitions. Incendiary weapons use substances that are designed to set fire to objects or burn people, and cluster munitions are containers that explode in the air to distribute smaller bombs over a large area. Both are banned under the convention.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings – with unexpected ferocity and disproportionate force.

Russia first began its air campaign in Syria on Sept. 30 of last year. While Russia claims its campaign is aimed primarily at the DAESH terrorist group, it has repeatedly targeted civilian areas and the moderate anti-regime opposition groups that control them.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed – and more than 10 million displaced – throughout the war-battered country, according to the U.N. The Syrian Center for Policy Research, an NGO, however, has put the death toll from the five-year conflict at as high as 470,000.

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