Hundreds killed by Russian air strikes in Syria

Nearly 600 people, the majority of whom were rebels, were killed by Moscow attacks in last month, monitoring group says.

Russia''s Defence Ministry handout photo shows a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet taking off from the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria
Syrian rebel forces say Moscow's air strikes have focused more on moderate fighters instead of ISIL [Reuters]

At least 595 people have been killed by Russian air strikes in Syria nearly a month into Moscow’s military campaign, a monitoring group has said.

About two-thirds of those killed by Moscow’s attacks since September 30 were opposition fighters and the rest were civilians, including 48 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday.

The Observatory said it had documented the deaths of 185 civilians, 131 fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and 279 members of opposition groups after Russia carried out strikes in 10 of the country’s 14 provinces.

Russia says its aerial campaign targets ISIL and other “terrorists”, but rebel forces and their backers accuse Moscow of focusing on moderate fighters instead.

Several medical groups have also accused Russia of strikes that have hit field clinics and hospitals in Syria.

Related: Russian fears of Syria becoming ‘new Afghanistan’

The international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday that air strikes in northern and central Syria have hit at least 12 hospitals in recent weeks, killing at least 35 patients and medical staff and wounding more than 70 others.

The attacks have also caused the displacement of thousands of civilians, the MSF said.

Government momentum

Russia’s air campaign has given new momentum to the Syrian army’s ground forces, who have launched offensives in several provinces with air cover from Moscow.

Yet, the offensives have had mixed results.

In the central province of Hama, the regime has taken several villages but failed to advance much towards a key town on a highway in the region.

And in Aleppo, it has captured at least six villages from rebel forces, along with several hilltops.


Meanwhile, an ISIL advance has severed the only route in and out of the government-held west of Aleppo.

Russia’s intervention in Syria follows that of a US-led coalition that has been carrying out strikes against ISIL and rebel groups in the country since September 2014.

The US-led coalition does not coordinate with Damascus however.

According to the Observatory, the US-led strikes have killed 3,649 people since they began, around six percent of them civilians.

The monitor said earlier this week that US-led raids had killed 3,276 ISIL fighters, 147 members of opposition fighters and 226 civilians.

Source: News Agencies