Russia Slams Amnesty Report on Conduct in Syria

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A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defense Ministry December 4, 2015, shows strikes by Russia's air force hitting trucks carrying oil, which, according to the ministry, are controlled by the Islamic State militants, in Aleppo in Syria.
A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defense Ministry DecemCredit: Reuters

REUTERS - A report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International that said Russia's bombing of Syria may amount to a war crime because of the number of civilians the strikes have killed is biased and contains ungrounded claims, Russia's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. 

The Defense Ministry has studied the report, which contains "trite clichés" and "fake information," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a news briefing.

He also rejected accusations by human rights bodies that Russia was using cluster bombs in Syria.

"Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in...attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law," Amnesty said in the report.

The Kremlin began its campaign of air strikes against militants in Syria on September 30, saying it wanted to help the Kremlin's main Middle East ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, defeat Islamic State and other militant groups.

It has repeatedly and forcefully denied targeting civilians, saying it takes great care to avoid bombing residential areas.

But the Amnesty report, whose charges echoed those of some Syrian and Western observers, said Russian air strikes had killed "at least 200 civilians and around a dozen fighters" up to November 29.

"Such attacks may amount to war crimes," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Amnesty International.

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