News / Middle East

    US Notes 'Troubling' Rise in Civilian Deaths From Russian Airstrikes in Syria

    FILE - Russian military support crew attach a satellite-guided bomb to an SU-34 jet fighter at Hmeimim airbase in Syria, Oct.  3, 2015.
    FILE - Russian military support crew attach a satellite-guided bomb to an SU-34 jet fighter at Hmeimim airbase in Syria, Oct. 3, 2015.
    VOA News

    The Obama administration said Tuesday that there had been a "marked and troubling" increase in civilian casualties in Syria since Russia began airstrikes in September.

    Human rights groups report hundreds of civilians have been killed by Russian missile strikes on emergency medical workers, hospitals, schools and markets.

    State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Secretary of State John Kerry brought up the matter in a telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    "We've consistently urged all sides of the conflict to take all feasible precautions to reduce the risk of harming civilians and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law," Toner said.

    Russia has denied causing civilian deaths in Syria. It says its airstrikes against what it calls "terrorists" are carefully coordinated with the Syrian army to avoid all civilian targets.

    Russia has said its mission in Syria is directed against Islamic State. The U.S. says Russia has been targeting the moderate opposition and is trying to prop up President Bashar al-Assad's floundering government.

    Toner also said the killing of a top Syrian rebel leader last week complicated efforts for a cease-fire.

    An airstrike fired either by Russia or Syrian forces killed Zahran Alloush, the head of an opposition group called Jaysh al-Islam. The group fought against Islamic State while backing a political settlement.

    Toner called such killings "counterproductive."

    "When we see these kinds of actions taken against their leadership ... it is our hope that it does not send a discouraging message to other members of the Syrian opposition who have gone to Riyadh, who have expressed a willingness to take part in this process," he said.

    The United Nations is looking to convene international talks on Syria on January 25.

    The U.N. brokered two rounds of peace negotiations between the Syrian government and rebels early last year, but those talks broke apart with little progress.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 02, 2016 2:49 AM
    US military experts and the news media pundits and propagandists call these terrorists families and supporters, civilians, when they are killed in the Russian and Assad Syrian army bombing attacks, even though these so-called "civilians" are on the frontlines supplying food, water, ammunition and other assistance to the ISIL or other terrorist groups?

    See the following article for an example from a news report right here on VOA.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/syria-monitor-un-deal-relocates-islamic-state-fighters-families/3117150.html

    by: Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 2:46 AM
    Assad and his army killed the most unarmed civillians.
    Not only should assad be held accountable for each and every one, Putin should be accountable as well. My guess is neither Putin nor assad is compensating any victims of war (homes destroyed, businesses destroyed, family members killed, etc). A true crime. Terrorism is the act of terror, if dropping bombs in populated areas is not terror, what is?????
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    January 02, 2016 3:50 AM
    What utter naivete... This is a guerrilla war waged by heavily armed militants against a government, who has to deal with insurgents hiding in populated areas, essentially holding civilians as hostages. There are two options attack them and accept the "collateral" damage or lay siege to the area and make ALL the civilians suffer.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    December 31, 2015 12:11 AM
    Dumb bombs, dumb Russians, dumb strategy, can't work.

    Did Russian pilots kill a lot of innocents? Of course they did. The pilot who shot down KAL007 got a medal. They only complain when it's their citizens who get killed or when it can be blamed on the US whether it's true or not.

    Will what's left of Syria's rag tag army defeat IS after four exhausting years of war? Who knows. But if anyone was confident they could, why is Iran asking China to send troops? Do you think China will? I don't think so. There's nothing in it for them. Not enough oil in Syria to matter.

    by: Willy Van Damme from: Belgium
    December 30, 2015 2:51 PM
    Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch produced their dossier solely based on unverified claims made by these Salafist head choppers. They are a disgrace. It should also be corrected: Russia did always say they were in Syria to fight ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups tied to these.

    by: Anonymous
    December 30, 2015 12:01 PM
    It seems putin is doing the same thing in Syria as he did in Chechnya. If this is the case, indiscriminately bombing, the International Criminal Court should be knocking on his door. Assad should be charged too. Genocide is serious business.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    December 31, 2015 12:17 AM
    Putin will eventually face justice but I don't think it will be in the Hague. I think it will be in Russia by the oligarchs...or in London when he starts to run from them. Russia's best thugs love London for assassinations and other sports. It's a KGB amusement park to them. People like Lugovoy must be dumb as a stump. Had he defected to the US he could have vanished into the crowd, been given a new identity, been living in Puerto Vallarta, or Costa Rica or anywhere. Instead he made it so easy for them. Did someone say chess is their national game?

    by: Quoc Tuan from: Vietnam
    December 29, 2015 11:53 PM
    I am to fed up with lies without evidence from Western media as well as from NGOs funded by the West. Russia has never targeted innocent civilians in Syria, not like the US and its allies.
    It is the US which must stop their killings of civilians in Syria and Iraq.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    December 29, 2015 11:43 PM
    IF the US is troubled by Russia doing anything, it'd have to be the great success of the Russian bombing campaign that's helping the Shia Muslim led government of Assad and the Syrian army recapture lost territory back from the ISIL, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups? .. When it looked like the end was near for Assad and the Syrian government, Russia stepped in and saved them?

    It's not the rumors of Russian bombs killing some innocent civilians, [and it's not], the tens of thousands of innocents being raped, enslaved, tortured and killed, or the millions of innocents becoming homeless migrants, [no], what's really troubling the US is the Russians helping Assad stay in power?

    by: anynmous from: usa
    December 29, 2015 11:17 PM
    Based on the opinion that avoiding civilian is impossible because isis use civilian as a human shield . Obama is fighting isis years and he has not eliminating them because the manner to conduct air strike is ineffective . the decision is to defeat isis carrying the risk of civilian to be killed. it is not the fault of Russia.it the manner of jihadist whom are acting like a woman and hide among children . Obama you have the chance to end the war but you did not

    by: Rodney from: Australia
    December 29, 2015 9:38 PM
    Are they counting the civilian deaths caused to the Tanker Drivers [10,000 to 20,000] who are delivering ISIS and Al Nusra oil from Syria and Iraq through Turkey. To me they are not Civilians. They are mercenaries on high pay. Not much risk prior to Russia starting to bomb them. Typical two faced Sanctimonious USA. Thousands killed in Iraq when they bombed almost every power station, communications center etc.etc. All Civilian staff. How many 25,000 - 100,000??
    Just go back a few years and look at Civilian Deaths from US bombing and the use of Agent Orange [Dioxin in effect. The most deadly Chemical Agent known to man. Chemical Warfare in effect and US authorities were aware of how dangerous it was.] in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos etc. Estimates vary from 1.5million to 3.5million plus an estimated 1/2 million birth defects.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora