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UN Chief Seeks Probe Into 'Russian' Syria Air Strikes

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (file photo)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (file photo)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an investigation into deadly air strikes in northern Syria last week that were allegedly conducted by Russian jets.

Guterres made the call in a June 10 statement, days after the air raid in Idlib Province reportedly left dozens of people dead, including children and women.

Guterres expressed "deep concern" about the strikes, and called for a "full investigation into the attacks, especially allegations that there was also a second strike targeting first responders, to establish accountability."

The UN chief recalled that Idlib was part of a deescalation agreement reached last year, and called on its guarantors -- Russia, Turkey, and Iran -- to uphold their commitments.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack on the village of Zardana killed at least 44 people, including six children, in one of the deadliest attacks in the mainly rebel-held Idlib Province so far this year.

It said it believed the strikes were carried out by Russian warplanes, which Russia's Defense Ministry denied.

Russia, along with Iran, has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government crucial support throughout the seven-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, allowing Damascus to make large territorial gains in recent months against rebels.

But rebel factions still control large parts of northwestern and southwestern Syria, while a Kurdish-led alliance backed by the United States holds most of the northeast.

On June 11, the UN's regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria said that military escalation in Idlib, most of which is controlled by Islamist rebel and jihadist factions, could make the situation there "much more complicated and brutal" than other conflict zones in Syria.

"We may have not seen the worst of the crisis" in Syria, Panos Moumtzis told reporters in Geneva.

With reporting by AFP and AP

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