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WAR REPORT
3,800 civilians dead in Russian strikes in Syria: monitor
by Staff Writers
Beirut (AFP) Sept 30, 2016


Russia shrugs off Syria campaign death toll allegation
Moscow (AFP) Sept 30, 2016 - Russia on Friday dismissed an accusation its bombing campaign in Syria has killed thousands of civilians, insisting it has stopped jihadists taking over as it marks a year since it began air strikes.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that more than 9,300 people -- including some 3,800 civilians -- had been killed in the year of Russian air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar Al-Assad.

"We do not consider as reliable the information on the situation in Syria coming from this organisation, which is based in the United Kingdom," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The toll released by the Observatory includes more than 2,700 jihadists from the Islamic State jihadist group and around 2,800 fighters from various rebel factions.

The monitor also said that at least 20,000 civilians have been wounded in Russian raids.

Peskov said that the Russian campaign's main objective had been to "assist Syrians and the Syrian army in the fight against terrorism."

"Taking into account that the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra aren't sitting in Damascus, this is probably a positive result of the support our air force has provided to the legitimate armed forces of Syria," Peskov said.

Russia has been accused of indiscriminately bombing Aleppo's opposition-controlled east as it helps an assault currently being conducted by Syrian government troops to capture all of the country's second city.

A short-lived truce brokered by Moscow and Washington earlier this month could have led the two countries to coordinate strikes against jihadists, but the deal quickly unravelled.

The United Nations has warned that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Aleppo unlike any witnessed so far in Syria's brutal five-year war, which has claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Russia said Thursday that it would continue its Syrian air campaign in spite of US warnings that Washington would pull the plug on talks unless Moscow stopped Aleppo assault.

More than 3,800 civilians have been killed in one year of Russian air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, a monitoring group said Friday as international outcry mounted.

Assad's regime and its key backer Russia are under growing pressure from world governments to halt a new offensive pounding rebel-held areas of the battleground city of Aleppo.

More than 9,300 people have been killed in the Russian raids since September 30, 2015, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The toll includes more than 2,700 jihadists from the Islamic State group and around 2,800 fighters from various rebel factions, the British-based monitor said.

At least 20,000 civilians have been wounded in the Russian raids, it said.

The Observatory -- which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information -- says it determines what planes carried out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the death toll from Russian strikes could be even higher given the number of people killed by unidentified warplanes.

Moscow said on Thursday that it would press on with its bombing campaign in Syria, ignoring a threat by Washington to suspend its engagement over the conflict following escalating attacks on rebel-held parts of Aleppo.

Regime and Russian aircraft have carried out a barrage of strikes on east Aleppo since the Syrian government announced an offensive last week to retake all of the divided city.

- Merciless abyss -

The bombardment has been some of the worst in Syria's five-year civil war, and follows the failure of a short-lived ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States.

Moscow and Washington have traded blame for last week's collapse of the ceasefire deal that would have marked the first step in a new effort to end the war that has killed 300,000 people since 2011.

US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted Thursday that months of diplomacy to end the war had hit a dead-end.

"I think we are on the verge of suspending the discussion because, you know, it's irrational in the context of the kind of bombing taking place, to be sitting there, trying to take things seriously," he said.

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what they called "barbarous" Russian and Syrian regime air strikes on Aleppo during a phone call, the White House said.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council in New York that Aleppo is descending into a "merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed so far in Syria."

More than 100,000 children remain trapped in east Aleppo, he said.

Two of the largest hospitals in the city's east were bombed on Wednesday in what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described as a war crime.

Save the Children said that bunker-busting bombs meant it was too dangerous for children to return to even underground schools in Aleppo when classes resume this weekend.

The "ferocious assault" on Aleppo could deprive almost 100,000 school-age children of an education, said the charity, which supports 13 schools in the city, eight of them underground.


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Washington (AFP) Sept 30, 2016
Secretary of State John Kerry is frustrated that his diplomatic efforts to end Syria's civil war were not backed up by US military force, according to a recording leaked Friday. In the audio released by the New York Times, Kerry is heard lamenting to a group of Syrian civilians last week in New York that his call for US action against Bashar al-Assad's government fell on deaf ears. "I th ... read more


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