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Today the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Syrians and supporters of Syria are here to protest against Russia’s war crimes in Aleppo. At an emergency debate in Parliament on Syria last month, Boris Johnson asked people to demonstrate in front of the Russian Embassy. He said people needed to do more to show their anger about Russia’s actions. Well let us just emphasize that Syrians have been protesting outside the Russian Embassy every Saturday since the beginning of the Revolution in 2011. And yes, Syrians want more support for their struggle against oppression and dictatorship.

Yesterday Russian warplanes started a renewed air offensive against Aleppo and one of the casualties was a relief warehouse in Western Aleppo. In Kafr Naha in Aleppo today, Russia launched a bomb killing 13 civilians and injuring 20 more. For more than a year now, Russia has been launching unguided bombs in Syria, with devastating consequences. Russian forces are responsible for 3.3% of civilian casualties in Syria since their incursion into the conflict to support the dictator Bashar Al Assad, more than ISIS. In fact, the only party Russia hasn’t yet beat on civilian death counts is Bashar al Assad, responsible for 90 percent of civilian casualties in Syria. That’s not a record to be proud of.

Russia deployed all of its naval northern fleet and much of its naval Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War to support its current assault on Aleppo. Russia’s only aircraft carrier sailed through the English Channel on the way to the Syrian coast to support its bombings of the city. The UK and other governments showed a lot of ‘concern’ and ‘consternation’ but that aircraft carrier is now being used to launch bombing runs on civilians in Aleppo. Russia is not just participating in an air war, it also has a significant presence on the ground via military advisers and illegally-hired private Russian mercenaries to support the dictator Bashar al Assad.

The truth of the matter is, Russia believes it will not be held accountable for any war crime it commits in Syria. Not by the international community or by its own people. And so far it hasn’t, but things are starting to change. In September, the UK Ambassador to the UN openly accused Russia of war crimes at a UN Security Council Session. On October 28th, Russia failed to win election to the UN Human Rights Council. This was the first time that a permanent member of the UN Security Council failed to get elected to the Human Rights Council since it was formed.

We want to see more consequences imposed on Russia as a result of their war crimes. We want to the UN General Assembly to override the UN Security Council and refer Russia and Assad to the International Criminal Court. We want the UK, the EU, and other governments to impose sanctions on all Russian individuals and companies involved in Syria.[1] And we want an end to the ban of anti-aircraft missiles for the Syrian opposition. Syrians have a right to self-defence in the face of genocide.

 

[1] For example, the names of some members of Russian forces operating in Syria has been published by Ukrainian activists: https://informnapalm.org/en/russian-bombs-civilians/

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