Russian air strikes in Syria have killed almost 1,400 civilians, according to a new report released by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Figures show that the aggressive military campaign has also claimed the lives of an estimated 965 Islamic State (Isis) militants and 1,233 members of fellow insurgent groups.
According to the group the dead comprise of 1,380 civilians, of which 332 were children, and 195 women, 853 men, 965 Isis (Daesh) fighters and 1,233 rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra including non-Syrian militants. Following the release of the latest figures, the group that represents the main opposition to Syria's President Assad will head to UN-brokered talks in Geneva to demand a halt to the bombing campaign that Russia insist is only focused on military and not civilian targets.
Syria's five-year-old civil war has claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people and led to mass migration from the war-torn country. Last month Amnesty International released a statement which said that Russian air strikes in Syria had "killed hundreds of civilians" and claimed that it had "interviewed eyewitnesses and survivors of attacks as well as examining video evidence and images showing the aftermath of attacks". It said it had been aided in the task by "weapons experts".
Russia 'war crimes' accusation
Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said: "Some Russian air strikes appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians. Such attacks may amount to war crimes."
Humanitarian research body the Carter Center has stated that Russian aerial bombardments and ground offensives have led to the internal displacement of over a quarter million people in Syria since September.
Russia started its aerial campaign in the Middle East country last September amid heavy criticism from the international community. It has denied all knowledge of any civilian deaths.