Russian Airstrikes Are Killing 1 Syrian Civilian for Every 2 Combatants

Russian Airstrikes Are Killing 1 Syrian Civilian for Every 2 Combatants

This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

Three weeks after Russia decided to launch airstrikes in Syria, the country’s campaign has already been criticized for hitting non-ISIS targets, its violations of Turkish airspace, allowing its planes to fly too close to American ones, as well as a misfiring of cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea that mistakenly landed in Iran.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 370 people have been killed by Russian warplanes since September 30. Of that number, 34 percent have been civilians—127 people, including 36 children and 34 women. When held against one assessment of the airstrikes by the American-led coalition, which started in September 2014, the Russian numbers come more clearly into view. Back in June, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted that of 3,000 people who had been killed by coalition airstrikes in Syria, 162 were civilians.

Russia says its strikes are against ISIL and other “terrorists”, but rebels and the US, which is conducting its own campaign against ISIL and some rebel factions, say Moscow has focused more on opposition forces than ISIL.

Hadi al-Abdullah, a media activist in Idlib, told Al Jazeera that the airstrikes in Idlib and Hama have not stopped in the past few days. “The air strikes do not stop during the day nor during the night, they are endless. Russian airstrikes have intensified on Idlib, Hama and Aleppo in the past few days — the airstrikes are targeting civilian areas.”

The US-led coalition, on the other hand, have not carried out any airstrikes in Syria for several days, a lull that contrasts with the continued intensity of Russia’s bombing campaign. According to Pentagon data, the last coalition strike was a drone attack on October 22 that targeted an Islamic State vehicle and a “mortar tube.”

Only yesterday, Russian jets struck 94 targets in war-torn Syria over 24 hours, the highest one-day tally since the Kremlin began its month-old bombing campaign, according to the Russian defence ministry.

“In 59 sorties in the past 24 hours, Russia’s air force hit 94 terrorist targets in the provinces of Hama, Idlib, Latakia, Damascus, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

Subscribe to our newsletter.