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HRW Accuses Russia, Syria of Possible War Crimes

The New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says both the Syrian government and its chief battlefield backer, Russia, may have committed war crimes with recent air and ground strikes in rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria. In a 167-page report issued on Thursday, HRW said attacks against civilian infrastructure from April 2019 to March 2020 “were apparent war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.” According to the report, “[d]ozens of unlawful air and ground strikes on hospitals, schools, and markets… killed hundreds of civilians. The attacks seriously impaired the rights to health, education, food, water and shelter, triggering mass displacement.” It added that some of the structures and facilities were “not just inadvertently” hit and named 10 senior Syrian and Russian officials, both military and civilians, saying “they knew or should have known about the abuses and took no effective steps to stop them or punish those responsible.” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth called this a “callous disregard for civilian life.”