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UN reports possible war crimes by Russia and Turkey in Syria

UN investigators have reported that Russia and Turkey have committed attacks in Syria which may amount to war crimes; this includes attacks on Kurdish held territories.

The UN report details that Russia has engaged in airstrikes on civilian targets including a popular market and camp for those displaced. These attacks have resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians in July and August.

The UN report states;

“In both incidents, the Russian Air Force did not direct the attacks at a specific military objective, amounting to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas”.

Similarly, the report details possible war crime committed against Kurdish regions, by rebels who are believed to be acting under the direction of Turkey’s military. 

The UN has blamed Russia for an airstrike on 22 July in Maarat al-Numan which killed 43 civilians. Russia also stands accused of destroying two residential buildings and 25 shops close to the Hmeimim airbase.

The UN report also details deliberate attacks by the Syrian government and its allies on protected civilian sites, this includes school and hospitals, during the period of July 2019 to February 2020

Russia has support Syria forces in their advance into Idlib in the northwest of Syria, a conflict which has forced approximately one million civilians to flee. Hanny Megally, a member of the UN panel, said on the matter;

“There is a war crime of intentionally terrorising a population to force it to move. We are seeing that picture emerging very clearly for example in Idlib where, because these places are being bombed, people are having to move out,”

Megally further detailed that because of this displacement around 10 children have been killed in the last few weeks due to lack of shelter at the Turkish border.

The UN has called on Turkey to investigate these alleged crimes but it has denied involvement.

Read more from Reuters.

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