Syria: no civilian casualties in Russian airstrikes for two months

Russian jetfighters attack targets in Syria Russian jetfighters attack targets in Syria Financial Times

2 June 2020

Syrian Human Rights watchdog reports 21 ISIS fatalities and no civilian killings, but local hospitals and schools struggle with airstrike damage  

 As Russian forces marked four years and eight months of operations in Syria in May, no civilian fatalities resulted from airstrikes for the second month running. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) documented no civilian losses from Russian air operations during the previous month, due to a ceasefire agreement between the Russian and Turkish Presidents in March. Meanwhile, SOHR activists reported 21 ISIS fatalities in Russian airstrikes on desert positions in April. Between 30 September 2015 and 30 May 2020, SOHR documented 8,649 civilian killings in the Syria conflict including 2,098 children, compared to 5,293 ISIS members and 6,128 combatants of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and Arab and other foreign combatants, a total of 20,070 persons.

This latest news comes alongside grave concerns for schools and hospitals in Syria. Also in May, Amnesty International counted 18 air and ground attacks on hospitals and schools, with evidence pointing to Russian involvement in at least one attack that put a hospital out of service. The Idlib Health Directorate had previously counted damage to ten medical facilities due to Syrian or Russian attacks, killing nine staff, while dozens of other facilities also had to close. According to the Hurras (Syrian Child Protection) Network NGO, 28 schools were hit by air and ground attacks in January and February 2020, with one day alone seeing ten schools struck, killing nine civilians. 

Although the airstrike death toll has now been free of civilian fatalities for the second consecutive month, SOHR and Amnesty still raise concerns about the weapons being used in airstrikes, especially cluster bombs and the slow-burning substance called ‘Thermite.’ Equally concerning is that a United Nations resolution which allows humanitarian assistance to access the region is set to expire, and international observers are urging the UN Security Council not to cut this vital aid lifeline for civilians.


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Author: Edward Jarvis

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