Reports: Russia Bombs U.S. Aid Offices, Schools, Hospitals in Syria

Civilians and children are said to be among the casualties

Russia airstrike

In this photo made from video footage provided by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, a cruise missile hits a target / AP


Russia has again been accused of bombing humanitarian aid offices, schools, and hospitals in northern Syria, resulting in civilian deaths, according to reports.

The Syrian Emergency Task Force, a non-government organization that works with U.S. aid agencies, told Foreign Policy that Russian bombers recently struck one of its facilities:

In a statement Monday to Foreign Policy, the Syrian Emergency Task Force said Russian planes bombed one of its offices in central Idlib province in a strike that "completely destroyed" the facility and equipment. The staff—which host civil society workshops, helps distribute U.S. humanitarian aid, and documents atrocities—was not present during the incident, and no one was killed, according to SETF.

"This attack on a humanitarian field office and surrounding civilian areas is yet another in a string of despicable violations of international law," said SETF Executive Director Mouaz Moustafa. […]

A Pentagon official could not immediately confirm the accusation but said it was not "unusual or hard to believe."

"They have struck there in the past," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They fly in Idlib and they don’t use precision weaponry, so the idea that they could hit a non-military target is legitimate."

In a new analysis, the Institute for the Study of War noted that Russian planes continue to target mostly rebel-held areas in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, not ISIS positions as claimed by Moscow. Those strikes have resulted in dozens of casualties and worsened a calamitous humanitarian crisis in the country.

"Russian strikes in Idlib Province resulted in 81 casualties, at least 22 of which were civilians, in a January 9 attack against a Jabhat al-Nusra prison in the town of Ma’aret al-Nouman," the think tank said. "Local sources also reported that Russian strikes targeting three schools in the town of Anjara in Western Aleppo on January 11 killed as many as 35 civilians, including 17 children."

Syrian opposition groups have threatened to pull out of peace talks set for the end of the month unless Russia ends its bombing of civilians.

Daniel Wiser   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Daniel Wiser is an assistant editor of National Affairs. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2013, where he studied Journalism and Political Science and was the State & National Editor for The Daily Tar Heel. He hails from Waxhaw, N.C., and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @TheWiserChoice.

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