Moscow grills diplomats over Syria civilian death reports

Russia invites US, UK, French, German, Italian, Saudi, Turkish & NATO military attaches to provide official explanation of substance of tstatements made or to refute them

Moscow grills diplomats over Syria civilian death reports

World Bulletin / News Desk

Moscow on Tuesday angrily ordered foreign military attaches in the country to confirm or refute "outrageous" Western media reports that Russian air strikes have caused civilian deaths in Syria.

Deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov contacted the military attaches of several Western countries as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and NATO over international media coverage of the four-week-old bombing campaign, the defence ministry said.

"We are accused not only of hitting the 'moderate' opposition but also civilian targets such as hospitals and also mosques and schools," a ministry statement quoted Antonov as saying.

"As a result of this, according to Western media reports, non-combatants are allegedly being killed," Antonov said, denouncing the reports as "anti-Russian smears".

"Today we invited the US, British, French, German, Italian, Saudi, Turkish and NATO military attaches to provide an official explanation of the substance of the statements made, or to refute them," he said.

"This particularly concerns the outrageous accusations in a number of English-language media outlets of alleged strikes on hospitals," Antonov said.

If Russia "is not presented with evidence or official refutations, we will consider that these anti-Russian smears are part of an information war against Russia," Antonov said.

He added that he expected to hear back from the attaches in "a few days".

Russia has denied accusations by the Syrian opposition that its strikes have caused civilian deaths.

Russian air strikes in Syria have killed at least 446 people, more than a third of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said last Friday.

The Syrian-American Medical Society, which operates several facilities in Syria, said Thursday that nine Russian air strikes have hit hospitals or field clinics.

Russia began its air campaign in Syria on September 30 in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad. 

The campaign has been criticised not only for causing civilian casualties but also for targeting the opposition groups more often than the ISIL or Al-Qaeda.

Last Mod: 28 Ekim 2015, 14:15
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