Russia and Belgium in war of words over airstrike near Aleppo

Published October 19th, 2016 - 02:15 GMT
Much of Aleppo has been destroyed by Syrian and Russian airstrikes (AFP/File)
Much of Aleppo has been destroyed by Syrian and Russian airstrikes (AFP/File)

An airstrike killed 6 in Hassajik, a village outside Aleppo, on Tuesday, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. At first glance, this isn’t news. Airstrikes kill civilians all the time. But as The New Arab reports, the bombing came as Russia claimed to stop bombing Aleppo to ensure an 8 hour ceasefire on Thursday. Russia is blaming Belgium for the bombing, and is slamming Belgium’s ally in Syria the US on Facebook.

Russian media reported on the accusations. According to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, Russia identified two Belgian F-16s in the skies at the time of the bombing. Russia is demanding an apology from the US, which ledes the anti-Daesh bombing coalition that includes Belgium, for the incident.

Belgium denies being responsible for the airstrikes. But Russia is clearly mad at them and the US. According to Ahram Online and others, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on FacebookI think that photographs of the dead will not be difficult to find to launch an appropriate campaign on CNN.”

What makes Russia’s beef with Belgium seem perhaps out of place is that Russian airstrikes on Aleppo repeatedly kill dozens or hundreds of civilians. In September, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed around 10,000 have been killed by Russian airstrikes in their year of bombing Syria, including civilians.

Russia announced the ceasefire to allow civilians to leave rebel-held east Aleppo and allow the flow of humanitarian aid. But some don’t think it’s enough. One EU official told the Financial Times that at least 12 hours were needed, while also welcoming Russia’s announcement as a “positive step”.

In the past, some aid organizations and the UN have called for 48 hour ceasefires to ensure the delivery of aid, saying shorter ones are not enough.

AL

 

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