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Russian Rights Groups Condemn Moscow's Role In Abuses In Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the headquarters of the Russian armed forces in Damascus on January 7, 2020.

Leading human rights groups in Russia have condemned the country’s role in abuses in Syria, including its participation in the bombing of civilian targets.

The condemnation comes in a 198-page report, billed as the first report on the deadly conflict by Russian rights groups, including the prominent Memorial human rights center and several other organizations.

The report includes more than 150 interviews with witnesses and survivors based in Russia, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, and other countries.

“Focusing on the plight of these civilians, we conclude that much greater responsibility for Syria’s future lies with all state parties to the conflict, Russia foremost among them,” the report says.

"The overwhelming majority of our interviewees do not see Russia as a savior, but as a destructive foreign force whose military and political intervention helped bolster the war criminal heading their country," the report added.

"Some of the people we interviewed revealed that they or their loved ones had been victims of Russian bombings,” it said.

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The report accuses Russia of abuses in Syria, including bombing civilians indiscriminately and backing Syria's regime, which has been accused of widespread atrocities including the use of chemical weapons.

The report calls on Moscow to conduct independent investigations into the Russian Army's bombardments in Syria and pay compensation to victims.

The authors of the report said it was compiled mainly to present information about human rights abuses in Syria to Russian readers, where “we have the sense that Russian society is not adequately informed about this conflict in which our country has played a key role.”

Russia, along with Iran, has played a critical role in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remain in power despite a 10-year conflict that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 388,652 people have been killed in the conflict.

With reporting by AFP and The Guardian
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