Syrians Urge US to Release Evidence of Russian Flight Patterns 

Russia’s attacks in Aleppo have been indiscriminate, disproportionate, and may amount to war crimes, according to evidence submitted to the independent international Commission of Inquiry by Syrian civil society groups.

On Thursday 15 December, the Syrian Civil Defense (‘White Helmets‘), Syrian Network for Human Rights, Independent Doctors Association and Violations Documentation Center submitted a dossier of cases documenting Russian responsibility for and complicity in war crimes in the besieged city of eastern Aleppo. Highlighting 304 incidents in which they believed there was a “high likelihood” of Russian responsibility, the organizations urged the Commission of Inquiry to investigate Russia’s responsibility for war crimes in Aleppo and to report on such findings when it presents the results of its Special Inquiry into the situation in Aleppo to the Human Rights Council in March 2017.

Russia’s airstrikes have targeted schools, hospitals, maternity wards, mosques, homes and ambulances, the groups warned. “Russia has also used banned weaponry, and has targeted heavily populated civilian areas, including using bunker buster bombs on residential buildings and hospitals. Russia has air-dropped incendiary weapons and cluster munitions on heavily populated civilian areas. Not even rescue workers or aid providers have been spared Russia’s strikes.”

Click this to tweet: .@AmbassadorPower #Syria NGOs release evidence of #Russia #warcrimes in #Aleppo, critical that US do same
The organizations also urged the Commission to investigate Iran’s involvement in war crimes committed in eastern Aleppo. Iran’s  decision to obstruct a ceasefire agreement in Aleppo undoubtedly cost civilian lives and violated the tenants of international law.

“Throughout the course of the Syrian crisis, Iranian-backed militias have played a central role in enforcing Syria’s sieges and overseeing local forced surrender negotiations. Iranian security and intelligence services have reportedly advised and assisted the Syrian military, including through the provision of expeditionary training via the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Ground Forces. Yet nowhere has Iranian intervention been more egregious than in eastern Aleppo, where Iran deliberately obstructed a 13 December 2016 ceasefire, which would have permitted thousands of innocent civilians to be safely evacuated from the besieged city”, the groups wrote.

Following the submission of their evidence, the groups are now calling on the United States to release whatever detailed evidence it has of Russia’s flight patterns in Aleppo – information which could be cross-referenced with the information the groups have documented to further corroborate the crimes committed.