Member of the Syrian Coalition Khatib Badlah warned that Russia will once again target the mainstream Syrian rebels who are part of the Geneva negotiations under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
“Russia has already targeted civilians and moderate rebel groups rather than ISIS since it intervened directly in the conflict in late September 2015. Russia, therefore, does not have the any credibility with regards to Syria,” Badlah said.
On May 20, Russia proposed to the US-led coalition to stage joint air strikes on Syria’s rebels “who are not observing a ceasefire,” including Alnusra Front.
Those strikes were supposed to begin as of May 25 and be coordinated with the Assad regime, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a Defense Ministry meeting broadcast on state television, adding Moscow reserved the right to stage strikes unilaterally.
Badlah expressed concern over this Russian suggestion as it coincides with attempts by Russia to designate FSA and other rebel groups who are part of the Geneva negotiations as terrorists.
Badlah called on the international community and the United States in particular to work on preventing Russia from committing more crimes against the moderate armed opposition and civilians under the pretext of combating terrorism. He warned that Russia’s actions in Syria undermine the political process.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) earlier said that 85% of the airstrikes Russia launched on Syria between September 30, 2015 and March 15, 2016 have targeted civilian areas under the control of the mainstream armed opposition.
Around 1,984 civilians across Syria have been killed in the Russian bombing campaign. The victims included 443 children, 286 women, 11 medical staff members, and 5 media activists, according to a report released by the monitoring group in March.
The Network said it had recorded at least 106 massacres committed by Russian forces. It added that women and children accounted for nearly 40% of the total deaths resulting from the Russian airstrikes.
The Network also said that it had documented at least 43 Russian attacks by cluster munitions. The monitoring group pointed out that it had documented no fewer than 235 attacks on vital civilian infrastructure, including 52 attacks on medical facilities and ambulances. (Source: Syrian Coalition)