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Thursday 7 November 2019

WANTED for targeting hospitals

Putin and Assad’s forces are bombing hospitals—again.

In a single day this week, Wednesday 6 November 2019, two hospitals were targeted in Idlib province, Syria.

Al Ikhlas Maternity Hospital near Shnan village in southern Idlib province was bombed by Russian planes, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Two medics were injured. The building and equipment were severely damaged. Here’s a video.

The Kafranbel Surgical Hospital was bombed again. This hospital—run by a UK charity—has already been bombed several times this year.

It was bombed on 5 May by a Russian pilot who released four bombs on the hospital at five minute intervals. His radio communications were intercepted and analysed for a New York Times investigation.

It was bombed again on 4 July. First by military helicopters shortly before 3pm local time. Then again about fifty minutes later by air launched missiles.

Kafranbel Surgical Hospital was on the UN’s deconfliction list. This means that the hospital team, trying to protect the hospital, had given the coordinates of the hospital to the UN for them to share with military powers intervening in Syria, including Russia.

Of course medics in Syria already knew Putin’s forces were targeting hospitals, just as Putin’s ally Assad has targeted medics since the early demonstrations of 2011 were met with deadly force, and doctors and nurses went to try and help Assad’s victims.

The hope was that by establishing the fact via the UN that these were hospitals and therefore protected in law, that Putin and Assad might be dissuaded from attacking. That hasn’t worked.

But having shared coordinates with Russia means that there is now no doubt about the criminality of the two leaders, Putin and Assad, and no doubt about the criminality of the military officers with command responsibility for these attacks.

Assad’s top officers, Assad’s ministers, are all sanctioned by the UK, sanctioned by the EU. But no Russian individuals are sanctioned for crimes in Syria. It’s time for that to change.

In the current election, voters are hearing scary things about Russian government influence in UK politics. So will British politicians be willing take a stand on Russian crimes in Syria?

The following Russian officers and leaders should be sanctioned. Criminal cases should be prepared should the opportunity arise to prosecute them.

Lieutenant-General Alexander Chayko, Head of Russian group of forces in Syria.

Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov, Head of Russian group of forces in Syria up to September 2019.

Lieutenant-General Andrey Yudin, Chief of the Air Force.

Colonel-General Sergei Surovikin, Commander in Chief of the Russian VKS.

Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s Defence Minister.

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.

Read more about Russia’s chain of command targeting hospitals.