The Russian Defense Ministry has urged NATO and Saudi Arabia to explain accusations that Russian airstrikes allegedly targeted hospitals in Syria, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on October 27.
|Sputnik News infographic about Russian air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria — click to enlarge.|
“We have summoned the U.S., UK, French, German, Italian, Saudi Arabian, Turkish and NATO military attaches today asked to give a formal explanation of these statements or to refute them. This especially concerns a number of outrageous allegations in the English-speaking media about alleged airstrikes on hospitals,” Antonov said.
According to Antonov, information attacks on the Russian Aerospace Forces’ actions in Syria have intensified in a number of Western media outlets. “We are being accused not only of launching airstrikes on ‘moderate opposition’, but also on civilian targets like hospitals, as well as mosques and schools. As a result, civilians are allegedly killed, according to Western media reports,” Antonov said.
Citing statements made by U.S. State Secretary John Kerry, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as examples, Antonov expressed regret that “some officials and politicians of a number of foreign states make similar statements [on civilian deaths in Russian airstrikes in Syria].”
The Russian Defense Ministry is “closely monitoring and analyzing these statements,” he said. Russia is bringing Russian and international communities to the notice about the Russian aviation’s actions in Syria on a daily basis, he added. “If our partners have some additional information, we have long called on them to share it with us.”
He added that if no evidence on civilian deaths in Russian airstrikes in Syria was provided in a few days, Moscow would come to a conclusion that the claims were part of the information warfare against Russia. “But if there is no evidence [of civilian casualties in Syria] or official refutal, we will consider that these anti-Russian media hoaxes are part of the information war against Russia.”
“In every case when the information is confirmed about destroyed hospitals, mosques and schools, as well as the deaths of civilians as a result of the Russian Air Force’s actions we will conduct a thorough investigation, of which Western media will be informed.
Syria hospitals Russia accused of bombing don’t exist – Defense Ministry
The Russian Defense Ministry has denied media reports its aircraft hit hospitals in Syria, saying the medical facilities mentioned by Western media don’t actually exist.
The Defense Ministry has checked the data presented in recent media reports, which blamed Russian aviation for hitting several hospitals in Syria, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the ministry spokesman said in a press briefing on Monday. Konashenkov denied the accusations, which he said were “traditionally made without any proof, without any factual backing.”
Out of six hospitals that were mentioned in the reports, only one medical facility actually exists in real life, he added. “We’ve checked this information. It turned out that, a hospital is only present in the village Sarmin,” the spokesman said, adding that there are no hospitals and no medical workers in the other five villages named in media reports.
The Defense Ministry presented a photo of the Sarmin hospital, which was taken on October 31 after the reports emerged. The image showed the building was intact, disproving claims it had been completely destroyed and 12 people killed.
Reports in several Western media outlets on October 21-23 claimed that 12 people, including doctors, were killed in a Russian airstrike on the village of Sarmin in Syria’s Idlib province. They also said medical facilities were hit in al-Eis, al-Hadher, Khan Tuman, Latamna and al-Zarba. The Russian Air Force has performed 131 sorties over the last two days, hitting 237 terrorist targets in various Syrian provinces, Konashenkov said.
“131 sorties were carried out from the Hmeimim airbase, during which 237 terrorist targets in Hama, Latakia, Homs, Damascus Aleppo and Raqqa provinces were hit,” Konashenkov said. In Homs, Russian warplanes have destroyed underground shelters and anti-aircraft artillery positions of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“In Tadmor district of the Homs province, an Su-25 attack aircraft struck an IS fortified area. As a result of the direct hit, fortifications, underground shelters and terrorist anti-aircraft artillery positions, which hosted two ZSU-23 systems, were destroyed,” Konashenkov said.
According to the spokesman, another Russian airstrike wiped out a Jabhat al-Nusra command center in Latakia province, which the jihadists used to suppressed radio communications by Syrian government forces.
“In the suburbs of the city of Aleppo, an Su-34 bomber struck a camp used for training militants arriving from foreign countries. The air bombs completely destroyed an arms depot as well as the terrorists’ training infrastructure,” Konashenkov said.
Russia began a large-scale air campaign against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other the terrorist groups in Syria on September 20. Dozens of sorties are carried out by Russian warplanes every day at the official request of the Syrian government.LISTEN MORE: