The attacks are the latest in a series of illegal “double-tap” strikes that Russia and Syria have been accused of carrying out. Four strikes hit the countryside in Idlib, the last rebel-held zone in Syria, report the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors such events in the war as operations and casualties. Spotters on the ground identified the aircraft as Russian, with the group adding the four children killed had been siblings.
Rescue group the White Helmets reported the same figure, though added that another 12 people, including eight children, had been wounded. This comes after the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) accused the Russian and Syrian governments of being complicit in carrying out dozens of highly controversial “double-tap” strikes in the war-torn country.
Russia has been carrying out such brutal attacks in Syria since 2015 to help its ally President Bashar al-Assad reclaim territory from rebels. One of the strikes levelled a building in an olive grove that was formerly a chicken farm killing four children from one family, the White Helmets told The Washington Post.
The children’s parents are being treated in hospital.
Another strike killed two men who had arrived at the scene following the initial attack. Double-tap airstrikes are when warplanes attack a site, before returning to strike the same area again as people are being rescued from the resulting destruction.
A report from the SJAC yesterday identified 58 double-tap attacks targeting residential areas between 2013 and 2021. The report added that Russian forces and the Syrian regime were shelling sites where paramedics and civilians gathered to help the victims of an initial strike.
These attacks aim to cause as much harm to civilians as possible, as well as destroying infrastructure and causing fear among the populace.
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The SJAC used open source intelligence to confirm the strikes and build a case of evidence, trawling through hours of video footage and images. In one instance, an attack on a camp in northern Idlib killed around 45 people and left 70 injured.
Rescue workers were trying to extinguish a fire in the camp caused by an initial bombing when a second missile struck, killing the rescue workers and a classroom full of children. Then a third missile struck, killing more survivors and civil defence workers.
Russia is a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose brutal crackdown on popular protests which erupted in 2011 largely made him a global pariah.
In 2015, Russia’s military intervention helped Assad turn the tide against various rebel and extremist groups.
Since then, Assad has regained much of the lost territory, and sent buses loaded with former rebels, their families and supporters to the northwest of the country.
About 4.5 million people now live in the Idlib province and surrounding areas, many of them displaced multiple times by the war.
The area is controlled by opposition militant groups, and worsening overall living conditions have left 4.1 million in need of humanitarian assistance.