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Russia World Cup 'tainted by Syrian blood'

Russia will host the 2018 World Cup this summer. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2018

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The Syrian Network for Human Rights has released a report documenting the most egregious Russian crimes in the Syrian war, ahead of the World Cup hosted by Moscow in June.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has released a report listing Russian crimes in the Syrian war, ahead of the World Cup due to be hosted by Moscow next month.

The report entitled "The World Cup is Tainted with the Blood of 6,133 Syrian Civilians Killed by Russia" notes that Russian warplanes were bombing Syrian towns and villages at a time when Russia was constructing stadiums, hotels and hospitals for the global tournament.

"The World Cup is an opportune moment to remind the world of the atrocities that Russia have perpetrated in Syria and expose its support for the most barbarian regime of the modern age," SNHR said on its website.

Russian forces have committed over 900 attacks on civilian facilities, including hospitals, since joining the war in 2015, the report says.

More than 6,000 civilians, including 1,761 children, have been killed by Russian forces, with Russian offensives conducted with the Syrian regime and Iran displacing some 2.5 million people, it added.

Russia was a key player in the recent bloody regime assault on the Syrian area of Eastern Ghouta, where weeks of intense bombing killed around 2,000 people.

Moscow has also blocked attempts for an independent investigation into a suspected gas attack on Douma, which killed at least 40 people in the opposition enclave.

"Not only did Russia perpetrate tens of thousands of violations, many of which constitute war crimes, it also shamelessly resorted to lying and misguiding by denying those violations, whether through questioning their occurrence or accusing other parties of being responsible for them," the SNHR said.

Russia has used its veto power 12 times to prevent UN passing draft resolutions against its ally Syria.

Last month, Syria activists in the UK picketed Premiership football matches in London and Manchester, asking football fans to boycott this summer's World Cup in Russia.

Syria activists argue that due to Moscow's critical role in the war - supporting the Assad regime - the World Cup should be played at an independent venue.

"The World Cup has served as a symbol of unity and fair play among nations but this year FIFA has decided to host it in a country ruled by a regime which has shown a total disregard for human life and human rights around the world," Syria Solidarity UK - which organised the protest with Manchester-based Rethink Rebuild - said in a statement.

Seven years of fighting has left more than 500,000 people, the vast majority civilians, dead from Syrian regime and Russia shelling and air raids.

Russian fighter planes have launched near daily air raids on opposition towns and cities.

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