The UK told Russia the world is ‘sickened’ by its latest attack on a school in northern Syria and told Vladimir Putin and Assad to end their ‘butchery’, in a new part of the deteriorating relations between Russia and the west.
Airstrikes by Syrian or Russian warplanes on Wednesday killed at least 26 people, most of them schoolchildren, in a village in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday that the bombing was believed to be carried out by Russian planes and targeted the village of Hass, including the school complex.
The Observatory said the warplanes had struck several locations in Haas including an elementary and middle school, killing at least one teacher as well as children, though it gave a lower toll of 15 children killed.
“The dead children are students and the planes are believed to be Russian,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based SOHR, which relies on a network of informants in Syria to track the war.
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In a sign of the escalating tensions between Russia and the West, Britain’s Foreign Secretary vented his anger on Twitter, writing: ‘World will be sickened by Syrian school bombing. 20+ children dead.’
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said also either Russia or the Assad regime were responsible for the airstrike.
“Who is responsible? In any case it is not the opposition because you need planes to launch bombs. It’s either the Syrians – the regime of (President Bashar) al-Assad – or the Russians,” Ayrault told a news conference.
“It’s yet another demonstration of the horror of this war, which is a war against the Syrian people, which we cannot accept.”
However, Russia denied its connection to the attacks, while it was clear that no air force, other than the Syrian and Russian, was holding operations in the area.
“The Russian Federation has nothing to do with this terrible tragedy, with this attack,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, adding Moscow demanded an immediate investigation.
Zakharova said claims that Russian and Syrian warplanes had conducted the deadly airstrikes in Idlib on Wednesday were “a lie”. Idlib
Deterioration between Russia and the west
Boris’s statement isn’t the first of its kind. He previously said that Russia should be investigated for war crimes in the Syrian city of Aleppo and risks becoming a pariah nation, and called for demonstrations agianst Russia
He called for an investigation into attacks on hospitals, which he said were being targeted with such frequency and precision that it was “difficult to avoid the conclusion that this must be policy”, amounting to a war crime.
Referring to attack on the UN humanitarian convoy, he said: “All the available evidence, therefore, points to Russian responsibility for the atrocity and I trust the UN board of inquiry will establish what happened.”
Johnson also called for demonstrations outside the Russian embassy in London and asked why leftwing protest groups seemed to lack the outrage over Russian conduct in Syria. “I would certainly like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy. Where is the Stop the War coalition?”
He added: “If Russia continues on its current path I believe that this great country is in danger of becoming a pariah nation, and if President [Vladimir] Putin’s strategy is to restore the greatness and the glory of Russia, then I believe he risks his ambition turning to ashes in the face of international contempt for what is happening in Syria.”
French officials also have been grappling for ways to put new pressure on Russia after Moscow vetoed a French-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. Idlib
France has previously announced it will ask the international criminal court to investigate possible war crimes committed in Syria’s Aleppo after more than 600 civilians were killed in the Assad-Russian offensive on the besieged city.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also canceled a visit to Paris after President Francois Hollande said he would see him only for talks on Syria.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.