Accusations of war crimes are not uncommon in the conflicts plaguing Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. The different players involved in the fighting often accuse their adversaries of intentionally targeting hospitals, schools and other civilian areas, and while evidence may seem strong, rarely do these claims lead to any prosecution.
There have been a number of recent cases where countries carrying out airstrikes have been accused of breaking international law.
Here are some of the more notable incidents.
US airstrikes hitting a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan
On October 3, a US AC-130U gunship repeatedly bombarded an MSF field hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province killing at least 42 people. The incident sparked outrage, especially as MSF had provided the US with the coordinates of the hospital, which was established in 2011.
MSF accused the US of committing a war crime, and continues to demand an independent investigation into the attack.
President Obama did apologize, and while the Department of Defense launched an internal investigation, MSF has stated that this is not sufficient.
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on MSF clinics in Yemen
There have been a number of reports of airstrikes hitting MSF clinics in Yemen, with the Saudi-led coalition being accused of targeting the buildings despite the knowledge that they were hospitals.
On October 26, the coalition reportedly carried out six consecutive airstrikes on Haydan Hospital in the Sa’da governorate. The hospital was almost completely destroyed.
Noting that GPS coordinates had been provided, Hassan Boucenine, head of MSF’s Yemen mission, told Reuters that the strikes “could be a mistake, but that fact of the matter is it’s a war crime.”
Russia’s alleged bombing of hospitals and schools in Syria
Up to 50 people were killed in a series of strikes on hospitals and a school in Northern Syria on Monday. Russia has been accused of carrying out the strikes, with France, Turkey and other western diplomats calling the series of attacks a war crime.
Turkey’s foreign minister accused Russia of committing an “obvious war crime” and threatened serious consequences if such strikes did not stop.
Russia, however, rejected all claims of war crimes, stating that the accusers had no evidence.
“We categorically do not accept such statements, the more so as every time those making these statements are unable to prove their unfounded accusations in any way,” a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin said.
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