In a stark contrast to its claims about fighting ISIS in Syria, the Russian air force continues to bomb residential areas in the rebel-held areas. In addition to targeting the Free Syrian Army, Russian air strikes have regularly hit public markets, local infrastructure and densely populated places.
Commenting on Russia’s activities in Syria, Adib Shishakli, representative of the Syrian Coalition to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said: “It has become clear that part of Russia’s strategy is to target civilians in rebel held areas. The Russian air strikes on the towns of al-Dana, Binnish and Taftanaz are a few examples of this strategy.”
Shishakli points to the fact that a large number of children and women were killed and injured in regime aerial attacks on Idlib province despite the truce reached with regime forces in that area. “The Assad regime has always breached truces and cease-fires and exploited them to make gains on the ground, which casts doubt on the possibility of reaching a viable solution or a sustained cease-fire.”
The Russian warplanes launched an airstrike on a popular market in the town of Ariha in rural Idlib in the early morning hours of Sunday, leaving 40 civilians dead and over 70 more injured; some in critical condition. Makeshift hospitals, underequipped and understaffed, were unable to address the large number of casualties.
Vice-president Mustafa Osso highly praised the steadfastness of the Syrians all across Syria, renewing confidence in the ability of the Syrian people and the FSA to rid Syria of the tyrannical Assad regime and ISIS. He said that the international community needs to take a clear and firm position on Russia’s crimes against the Syrian people. He also called for more support to Syrian rebel fighters so that they could protect the Syrian people and achieve their legitimate aspirations.