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Russian forces firebombed Syrian civilians 'at least 78 times' Open in fullscreen

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Russian forces firebombed Syrian civilians 'at least 78 times'

At least 51 incendiary weapons were dropped on Aleppo, an SNHR report found [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 January, 2017

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Incendiary weapons have been used in "excessively indiscriminate" attacks by Russian forces since they intervened in Syria's civil war, a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights has found.
Russian forces have dropped at least 78 incendiary weapons on Syria since it began its intervention in September 2015.

The "excessively indiscriminate" weapons, used in combat to conceal land forces' movements by setting fire to their target, were aimed at residential or agricultural areas, burning victims, rather than being used for military purposes, a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights [SNHR] found.

"This huge number of incidents exhibits a pattern and carelessness, and sometimes deliberateness, by Russian forces to cause damages to the Syrian citizens and Syrian lands," Fadel Abdul Ghani, chairman of SNHR, said in response to the 'Rain of Fire' report, released on Thursday.

"Apparently, this is a methodology and policy by Russian forces rather than an indiscriminate individual use.

"Political Russian leaderships have to launch investigations to follow-up on these incidents, hold those who are responsible accountable, and compensate those who were affected. Otherwise, they are partners in these widespread violations."

The report mainly draws upon survivor and witness accounts, and verified incidents with visual evidence or pictures of weapons remnants.

There were at least 78 attacks using incendiary weapons by fixed-wing warplanes believed to be Russian between 30 September, 2015 - the date on which Russian airstrikes commenced in Syria - and 31 December, 2016.

Most of these attacks happened in June, July and August last year, with Aleppo suffering the greatest number with 51 incendiary bombs dropped, followed by Idlib with 19 attacks, Homs with six attacks, and Damascus suburbs with two attacks.

Four children were killed as a result, with 15 civil facilities damaged, the report found.
Because the economic and political sanctions are weak, Russia continues to commit more crimes as it is not paying for the crimes and interference in Syria even in the slightest
The use of the weapons, which most commonly use napalm or white phosphorus, against civilian-populated neighbourhoods is a violation of international humanitarian law.

Russian forces failed to ensure the attacks minimised harm to civilians and damage to civil infrastructure, SNHR added.

The attacks did not target any military trenches or facilities, the report found.

"These attacks resulted in the killing and injuring of civilians, which constitute war crimes," it said.

Human Rights Watch in December also accused the Syrian regime and its Russian allies of "recklessly" using incendiary weapons.

SNHR has called on the Russian government and an independent commission to investigate the attacks. It also called on the European Union to impose stronger sanctions on Russia "given the enormity of the crimes and violations".

"Because the economic and political sanctions are weak, Russia continues to commit more crimes as it is not paying for the crimes and interference in Syria even in the slightest," SNHR said.

This week, a Russian warship used to wage a massive offensive on Aleppo was seen on its way back to Russia, with a British minister calling it a "ship of shame".

The Syrian regime and its Russian backers were responsible for at least 75 percent of civilian deaths in 2016, SNHR has previously reported.

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