Russia denies causing civilian deaths in Syria

Russia slams as "absurd" accusations by the United States that Russian air strikes in Syria are killing hundreds of civilians.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Airstrikes in Syria (archive)
Airstrikes in Syria (archive)

Russia on Wednesday slammed as "absurd" accusations by the United States that Russian air strikes in Syria are killing hundreds of civilians.

Russia has come under growing criticism from the West as well as human rights groups and Syrian rebels for inflicting civilian casualties in its two-month bombing campaign in the war-torn country.

The State Department said Tuesday that the Russian strikes had killed hundreds of civilians" and hit "medical facilities, schools and markets".

But Russia’s defense ministry denied the comments on Wednesday.

"All of these anonymous and unsubstantiated statements about the alleged use of Russian aircraft on civilian targets in Syria is increasingly reminiscent of hypnotists' acts in travelling circuses," the ministry said, calling the claims "absurd".

Earlier on Wednesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday that Moscow's strikes had killed 2,371 people since they were launched September 30.

It said the toll includes 792 civilians, among them 180 children.

Russia's defense ministry said it deplored the "absolute silence" about the strikes by the United States, which is leading a coalition conducting its own bombing campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.

It said the U.S. raids had caused "mass casualties".

Amnesty International last week issued a damning report claiming that the Russian raids had killed hundreds of civilians, many in targeted strikes that could constitute war crimes.

Russia's defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov dismissed that report as well, saying it was made up of "clichés and fakes".

In the past two days, Russia's air force conducted 121 combat sorties and struck 424 targets in many parts of Syria.

Following the first Russian airstrikes against the Homs and Hama districts in Syria, an unnamed American official said the targets were "moderate" rebel groups fighting the Islamic State (ISIS), despite Russia’s claims it was only targeting ISIS.

France later said that despite Russia's claims that its massive wave of airstrikes was targeting ISIS, evidence on the ground showed that "80 to 90 percent" of Russian strikes in Syria were aimed at propping up Assad.

AFP contributed to this report.