Russia rejects UN war crime accusations | News | DW | 03.03.2020
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Russia rejects UN war crime accusations

The Kremlin was responding to UN investigators accusing Moscow of being party to airstrikes in Syria targeting civilian areas indiscriminately. The dispute coincides with mounting tension in Syria's Idlib province.

Russia on Tuesday rejected allegations made by the UN that 2019 airstrikes in Syria amounted to a war crime because they indiscriminately targeted civilian areas. 

"We strongly reject these claims," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "It's obvious that one committee cannot have reliable information of what is happening on the ground."

Russia's Tass news agency said the Peskov accused the UN commission of being "biased."

A report released Monday by the UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria said it found evidence that Russian planes were involved in airstrikes on a crowded market in July and on a camp for displaced people in Syria in August last year.

Read moreTurkey launches 'fresh' military operation in Idlib as tensions mount

More than 60 people were killed in the strikes in Idlib and rural Damascus.

"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,'' the commission said, citing witness accounts, video footage and flight communication intercepts, among other data. 

'War crimes' perpetrated on nearly all sides

The UN-backed Human Rights Council on Monday said there was evidence that war crimes were committed by nearly all sides in the Syrian conflict. 

"It is scandalous that the international community has not been able ... to deal with the situation," UN Syria commission chair Paulo Pinheiro told reporters.

Read more: Europe faces 'serious decision' on refugees amid Idlib catastrophe

Turkey accused

UN investigators also warned Turkey on Monday that it may have "criminal responsibility" for war crimes against Kurds in northern Syria last year. From July 2019 to January 10 of this year, Ankara-backed Syrian rebels were accused of carrying out executions, seizing homes and looting. 

"If any armed group members were shown to be acting under the effective command and control of Turkish forces, these violations may entail criminal responsibility for such commanders who knew or should have known about the crimes," the report warned. 

Tensions between Turkey, Syria and Russia were ratcheted up late last week with the attack on Turkey's Syrian outpost in Idlib.

Read more:  Opinion — Vladimir Putin rekindles Recep Tayyip Erdogan's lost love for NATO

stb/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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