Russia blames US for bombings in Syrian Aleppo

MOSCOW: Russian Defense Ministry denied Thursday its involvement in Wednesday’s bombings in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, that caused the destruction of two hospitals, blaming U.S. aircraft for the attack instead.

“Yesterday at 13:55 Moscow time (10:55 GMT), two U.S. Air Force A-10 attack jets entered the Syrian air space from the territory of Turkey, took a direct course to Aleppo and launched strikes against facilities in the city,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S military official Steve Warren said in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that Russian aircraft bombed two hospitals in Aleppo during the day, depriving some 50,000 Syrians of medical care.

Konashenkov noted that Warren, as the spokesman of the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, failed to provide either the time and coordinates of the alleged attack, or the source of the data.

No Russian aircraft operated near Aleppo on Wednesday and the nearest target hit by the Russian air force in Syria was located some 20 km away from the city, said Konashenkov, adding that only war planes and strike drones of the U.S.-led coalition were seen above Aleppo.

He also denied accusations that Russian aircraft were launching strikes against civilians in Syria.

“Air strikes are carried out against assigned targets only after additional checks of the received data and elimination of risks for civilian lives,” he said.

According to Konashenkov, Russian Armed Forces in cooperation with their partners had deployed a multi-level intelligence system providing credible target detection in order to avoid civilian casualties.

He said that it is terrorists that are threatening civilians and making people go to the Turkish borderline.

“Having left their weapons behind, militants are making efforts to mix in the public because they know the Russian air forces and Syrian government forces do not carry out strikes against civilians,” he said.

Konashenkov reiterated that the Russian forces deployed in Syria were to destroy terrorism, while all political issues should be resolved only by Syrians themselves with international mediation at the negotiation table.

Since last October, Syrian government forces supported by Russian airstrikes have been launching offensives against rebels in Aleppo, which, according to Western media, have caused thousands of people to flee.

As many as 500 people have been killed in the offensives since the beginning of this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday.

According to the monitor group, 89 civilians were among the death toll, while the rest were militant fighters.

The Syrian government hails Russia’s air strikes as efficient in curbing the expansion of terrorist groups, while the opposition accuses Russia of targeting civilians as well.  

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