Amnesty International said on Wednesday that nearly three months of Russian air raids in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians, many in targeted strikes that could constitute war crimes, reported AFP.
Some strikes “appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians,” Amnesty Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in a statement.
“Such attacks may amount to war crimes,” he said, adding that it “is crucial that suspected violations are independently and impartially investigated”.
The London-based rights group said there is “evidence suggesting that Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage to a mosque from one air strike and a field hospital in another”.
There is also “evidence suggesting Russia’s use of internationally banned cluster munitions and of unguided bombs in populated residential areas”.
In the report, Amnesty said it had “researched remotely” more than 25 Russian attacks that took place in Homs, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo between 30 September and 29 November.
According to BBC, Russia has dismissed the report as “total lies”.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said he saw “nothing specific and nothing new” in the report. He also denied the Russian military used cluster munitions in Syria.
“We examined this report,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing in Moscow.
“Once again there was nothing specific or new that was published, only cliches and fakes that we have already repeatedly exposed.”
However Maj-Gen Konashenkov said that as Amnesty International carried out its research remotely, it had no way of checking on the ground that there were no military targets in areas where civilians were killed.
He pointed out that militants used weapons mounted on vehicles and that “each vehicle is considered a tactical unit and represents a legitimate military target”.
As for cluster munitions, “Russia does not use them…we have no such weapons on our base in Syria.”