Amnesty condemns Syria regime strikes on Idlib school, hospitals

Smoke plume rising following a reported air strike in the north of Idlib province on March 22, 2019. (AFP)

Amnesty International accused Syria’s government and its Russian allies on Thursday of striking medical facilities and a school in the rebel-held Idlib province with air and artillery strikes over the past month.

After eight years of war, “the Syrian government continues to show utter disregard for the laws of war and the lives of civilians,” Amnesty said in a statement.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, regime strikes since February on the northwestern province, controlled by the extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, have left at least 170 civilians dead and displaced thousands of others.

Amnesty said that “a hospital, blood bank, and other medical facilities, as well as a bakery and a school”, had been hit in Idlib.

“The Syrian government, with the support of Russia, is clearly resorting to the same unlawful military tactics which led to massive displacement, in some cases forced displacement,” it said.

Amnesty said its report was based on witness testimonies backed up by “analysis of videos, open source information, and satellite imagery”.

On March 15, the United States accused Russia and the Syrian government of being responsible for “escalating violence” in Idlib.

“Despite Russia’s claims to be targeting terrorists, these operations have caused dozens of civilian casualties and have targeted first responders as they attempt to save lives on the ground,” a State Department spokesman said.

A Turkish-Russian truce deal was struck in September to stave off a planned regime assault that aid groups feared could spark the Syrian conflict’s worst humanitarian crisis to date.

The offensive has been held off but the deal’s provisions have not been implemented.

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