Russian strike kills 20 fleeing civilians in east Syria: monitor

Smoke billows from buildings following a reported air strike on Ain Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta area, a rebel stronghold east of the Syrian capital, on October 2, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Russian strike kills 20 fleeing civilians in east Syria: monitor

BEIRUT: A Russian air strike killed at least 20 civilians on Wednesday as they tried to cross the Euphrates river to escape fighting in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said children were among those killed as they tried to cross the river aboard rafts, escaping from areas where Russian-backed regime forces are battling the Daesh group.
Two campaigns are being fought against the jihadist group in east Deir Ezzor, with one on the western side of the Euphrates river that slices diagonally across the province led by Syrian troops and backed by ally Russia.
The second is being fought by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, on the eastern bank of the river.
The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.
The group has reported hundreds of civilians killed in operations against Daesh in Deir Ezzor and neighboring Raqqa province, where the SDF is fighting with US support to capture the former jihadist bastion Raqqa city.
On Tuesday, the Observatory said a US-led coalition strike in Raqqa killed at least 18 civilians.
The coalition says it takes all measures possible to avoid civilian casualties and that it investigates all credible allegations.
Last month, it acknowledged the deaths of over 700 civilians in its strikes in Syria and Iraq since 2014.
Russia has not acknowledged any civilian deaths in its strikes since its intervened in Syria’s war in 2015 and dismisses the Observatory’s reporting as biased.
The deaths in Deir Ezzor on Wednesday prompted outrage from the opposition Syrian National Coalition which described the incident as a “heinous crime.”
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.


Russia to send modern S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

Updated 24 September 2018
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Russia to send modern S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

  • President Vladimir Putin has ordered additional security measures after a Syrian Soviet-era S-200 air defence missile shot down a Russian military plane by mistake
  • Russia will transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks

MOSCOW: Moscow will bolster Syria's air defence with a S-300 system and jam radars of military planes striking from off the coast of the Mediterranean following the downing of a Russian plane, its military chief said.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that President Vladimir Putin has ordered additional security measures after a Syrian Soviet-era S-200 air defence missile shot down a Russian military plane by mistake, killing 15, in an incident last week that Moscow blames on Israel.
"This has pushed us to adopt adequate response measures directed at boosting the security of Russian troops" in Syria, Shoigu said in a televised statement.
"(Russia will) transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks."
Syrian military had already been trained to use the system, which was set to be sent over in 2013 but was held up "at the request of Israel," Shoigu said.
"In regions near Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, there will be radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, on-board radar systems and communication systems of military aviation attacking objects on Syrian territory."
Moscow says Israeli F-16 planes which struck Latakia in western Syria on September 17 later used the landing Russian Il-20 surveillance plane as a "cover," which resulted in the Il-20 being struck by a Syrian air defence missile.
"We are certain that the realisation of these measures will cool the 'hot heads' and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen," Shoigu said.