MESOP Syria Daily: Russia Tries to Deny Its Deadly Bombings Near Idlib Hospital – US ADMIRAL KIRBY STILL BEHIND HIS LOOKING-GLAS
june 01 – 2016 – eaworldview – by Scott Lucas
Russia’s officials tried on Tuesday to deny any responsibility for airstrikes in opposition-controlled Idlib city in northwest Syria, in which more than 50 people were killed and about 250 were wounded.Residents, rescuers, and activists reported that 10 bombs struck near Idlib’s National Hospital on Monday night. They said they recognized the distinctive signature of strikes by Russian-piloted Su-24 attack aircraft.
“[This was] the heaviest bombardment I’ve witnessed since the beginning of the revolution….Russian warplanes targeted civilian centers,” citizen journalist Imad Abu Ayman said.After a silence of several hours, the spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted, “No combat missions, let alone delivering airstrikes, have been performed by the Russian Air Force in Idlib province.”Konashenkov tried to deflect blame by saying the accounts had been created by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: “We urge people to remain critical of any scare stories spread by the ‘British tandem’ of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Reuters news agency.”
The denial is the latest in a series by the Defense Ministry of strikes on more than 30 medical facilities since Russia’s aerial intervention began on September 30. The Ministry has said on previous occasions that attacked hospitals do not exist and that images of damage were manipulated.After missiles killed 55 people at the al-Quds Hospital in east Aleppo in late April, Konashenkov initially blamed the US-led coalition, even though it does not operate near the city. Later, he insisted that the hospital had been damaged six months earlier, implying that witnesses were recycling stories of bombings and deaths.
US: “Still Looking Into What Happened”
Later on Tuesday, Russian State media seized on a cautious statement by US State Department spokesman John Kirby, “We’re still looking into what happened in Idlib. We don’t have a great sense of complete knowledge here of who’s responsible.”
Confirmation of Russia’s direct involvement in the attacks could be a damaging blow to US-Russian co-operation, including the brokering of a February 27 “cessation of hostilities” — now effectively collapsed in much of Syria — and the failed political talks in Geneva.
Therefore, Kirby was hesitant to lay any blame in his daily briefing for journalists: Obviously, the killing of innocent civilians is a violation of the cessation of hostilities, period, and we’re going to continue to work closely inside the cessation of hostilities task force with the Russians to try to figure out what happened here, and then we’ll take it from there. But I can assure you that we’re very focused on it. We’ve seen the images, same as you there, and we’re going to do what we can to get to the bottom of it. www.mesop.de