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Airstrikes on Idlib, Syria, kill and injure dozens

idlibAirstrikes were carried out yesterday evening, May 30th 2016, across Idlib, north-west Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 23 were killed and dozens were injured.

Other sources, such as the Turkish government, give higher totals – some believe up to 60 have been killed and around 200 injured in the violence.

There is also not clarity as to who perpetrated the attack. Most sources, including the Observatory and other witnesses in Syria, have identified Russian jets as the culprit, a charge that Russian officials deny.

Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, said in a statement: “Russian planes did not carry out any combat missions, to say nothing of any air strikes, in the province of Idlib.”

What is for certain is that the airstrikes were carried out by the Syrian government or their supporter, Russia.

Idlib is held by a coalition of rebel groups, which include al Qaeda and is not covered by the truce.

At least 10 strikes are thought to have been carried out during the attack, with many hitting residential areas and one destroying much of a hospital in the area.

It was only the beginning of May 2016 when airstrikes struck a refugee camp in Idlib, killing 28 and injuring over 80.

In 2015, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor found that airstrikes carried out by state actors in Syria killed and injured at least 4,021 civilians in populated areas alone.

In the first four months of 2016, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor has already recorded 3,955 deaths and injuries in Syria. Of these 2,949 were civilians, with state actors responsible for at 36% of the civilian deaths and injuries in this period. The violence in Syria was greatly reduced throughout Syria in March after the ceasefire; the total deaths and injuries in March were at least 50% less than those recorded in either January or February.

Over the last five years, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor has found Syria to consistently be one of the states worst affected by explosive violence. A total of 36,224 deaths and injuries from explosive violence were recorded 2011-2015 – of these 86% (31,290) were civilians.

The only country worse affected from explosive violence in the last five years was Iraq.

From 2011-2015, 16,657 civilian deaths and injuries in Syria have been reported on English language media from explosive violence perpetrated by state actors, predominantly Syria and Russia. Of these state perpetrated attacks 466 were air-launched, which alone were responsible for 10,065 civilian deaths and injuries.

AOAV records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources. The data reflected here cannot capture the full scale of civilian suffering in Syria, but is indicative of the patterns of harm that exist when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.

AOAV strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all groups to reject the deliberate targeting of civilians. The use of weapons with wide-area impacts should also remain of concern; due to the severe impact these have on civilians. All actors must urgently address the civilian harm in Syria. The situation in Syria requires an urgent response to prevent further suffering of Syrian civilians, who have for too long borne the impact of the violence in their country.