Monitor: 500 Civilians Killed in Russian-led Onslaught on NW Syria

At least 544 civilians have been killed and over 2,000 injured since a Russian-led assault on the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria began two months ago, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said.

Of those killed, at least 130 were children, the Network said.

“The Russian military and its Syrian ally are deliberately targeting civilians with a record number of medical facilities bombed,” Fadel Abdel-Ghani, chairman of SNHR, told Reuters.

Khawla al-Sawah, Deputy Head of the Association of Relief and Medical Organizations, said that the knocking out of these medical facilities in less than two months is not coincidental, describing it as a “war crime.”

“Whole villages and towns have been emptied,” Idlib-based civil defense spokesperson Ahmad al-Sheikho said, adding it was the most destructive campaign against Idlib province since it completely fell to the opposition in the middle of 2015.

Last month, Human Rights Watch said that the Russian-Syrian joint military operation had used cluster munitions and incendiary weapons in the attacks along with large air-dropped explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated civilian areas, based on reports by first responders and witnesses.

The heads of 11 major global humanitarian organizations warned at the end of last month that Idlib stood at the brink of disaster, with 3 million civilian lives at risk, including 1 million children.

Last Thursday an aerial strike on Kafr Nabl hospital made it the 30th facility to be bombed during the campaign, leaving hundreds of thousands with no medical access, according to aid groups.

According to the United Nations, at least 300,000 people have fled their homes to areas near the border with Turkey, while local activists say that the campaign has destroyed dozens of villages and towns.

The Syrian Coalition earlier said that the onslaught against northwestern Syria is being led by Russia, stressing that the Assad regime is just implementing Russian plans.

The Coalition pointed out that the objectives of the recent military operations “have long been exposed as the Russian role is abundantly evident following the shelling that targeted the Turkish observation points.” It stressed that the targeting of these points indicated attempts to put pressure on Ankara and sabotage the Idlib agreement which was meant to pave the way for a nationwide ceasefire and the resumption of a genuine UN-led political process. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)

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