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Russia says Syrian airstrike campaign has not hit civilian targets

world Updated: Dec 27, 2015 19:13 IST
Russia in Syria

Boys stand at a ground damaged by what activists said were air strikes carried out yesterday by the Russian air force at a school in Jerjnaz town in Idlib province, Syria .(REUTERS Photo)

Russian air forces have not hit civilian targets since they started a bombing campaign in Syria nearly three months ago, a senior Russian officer said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television.

London-based rights group Amnesty International said this week that Russia’s bombing of Syria had killed many civilians and could amount to a war crime. Russia’s Defence Ministry strongly rejected the allegations.

“The Military Space Forces have never hit civilian targets in Syria,” said Viktor Bondarev, Colonel General and commander-in-chief of Russia’s Aerospace Forces. Pilots are well-trained and “have never missed their targets, have never hit ... so-called sensitive places: schools, hospitals, mosques,” he said.

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

Bondarev also said that the supply of Russian surface-to-air S-400 system to Syria had helped to “set the (Syrian) air space in order.”

A man walks near a damaged truck at a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in Syria. Russia has denied that its airstrikes have hit civilian targets. (REUTERS Photo)

A new message purporting to come from the leader of Islamic State said on Saturday air strikes by Russia and a US-led coalition had failed to weaken the group.

The United Nations currently aims to bring together Syria’s warring parties on January 25 in Geneva to begin talks to try to end nearly five years of civil war.