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Press Release

Russian Airstrikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians by Cluster Munitions and Vacuum Bombs

Violations Documentation Center in Syria-VDC, November 2015

Salaheddine District, Aleppo. Oct 30th 2015.  © VDC, by Hussam Qattan.

Russian airstrikes killed at least 329 civilians in Syria within thirty days between September 30th  -the very first day it started- and October 30th, said VDC in a report released today, including 88 children and 58 woman. All of them were killed by cluster munitions, vacuum bombs and long-range missiles launched from the Caspian Sea.

The 44-page report, “Russian Strikes on Syria’s Civilians: Cluster Munitions, Vacuum Bombs and Long-Range Missiles”. The reported added that civilian casualties rose to 526 civilians after 45 days from the start of Russian air strikes in Syria, that is, to the date of November 15th  2015, including 137 children and  71 woman.

VDC interviewed more than 42 people most of them are eyewitnesses and examined many of the targeted places during field visits depending on the security situation. VDC also interviewed a large number of eyewitnesses, survivors, doctors, rescue teams and observatories spread around in some governorates via Skype. VDC research team analyzed hundreds of videos and photos of 105 attacks using VDC mythology in addition to more investigation on distinguishing Russian, Syrian government and International Coalition warplanes. It was not possible for the research team to fully investigate 81 attacks accordingly they were excluded while the team investigated 24 attacks targeted civilian areas with no presence of military objects close.

One attack on October 8th 2015 on the city of Khan Shaykhun in the countryside of Idlib,  targeted the house of Ibrahim Moas, a VDC field researcher resulting in the death of his Laila El-Asaad) immediately and injured his father severely and was taken to Turkey for treatment. Another attack on October 27th on the city Hayan in norther countryside of Aleppo, killed an eyewitness who was interviewed several times, Abu an-Nour Ahmad, a mdia activist who documented three attacks before the fourth killed him. I an addition to the use of cluster munitions in many attacks; on October 15th 2015, a vacuum bomb killed at least 40 civilians were hiding in one of the shelters in al-Ghantu town, Homs.

The report described the attacks as indiscriminate and a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and amount to war crimes.  The perpetrators of these acts of individual commanders, who gave the orders, as well as anyone who has committed, facilitated or helped the perpetrators to conduct these attacks.

VDC issued a summary report one day after the Russian Defense Ministry declared the start of its strikes in Syria on September 30th 2015. The report documented 43 civilians killed in northern suburbs of Homs city by the Russian air strikes.

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