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A Fine Gael TD wants the government to expel the Russian ambassador over Aleppo airstrikes

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has condemned Russia’s bombardment of the Syrian city.

Russia's ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov.
Russia's ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

A GOVERNMENT TD has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to expel the Russian ambassador as airstrikes continue to rain down on Aleppo.

The Irish Syria Solidarity Movement will be holding a protest rally at the GPO in Dublin at 2pm tomorrow over Russia’s week-long aerial assault on the city’s rebel-held east.

The US has accused Russia of using “incendiary bunker-busting bombs” in the bombardment, carried out in support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) have demanded the Syrian government and its Russian allies “to stop the bombing that is causing a bloodbath of civilians in the city”.

Charity Save The Children says that bunker-busting bombs being dropped by the Russian and Syrian air forces mean children won’t even be able to return to underground schools when the school year resumes this weekend.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council that war crimes are being committed by those using “ever-more destructive weapons” in Aleppo, while the US has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Vladimir Putin’s government over the blitz.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has condemned Russia’s continued airstrikes. In a statement, he said:

My grave concerns have been directly conveyed in the clearest terms to the Russian authorities.
I urge Russia to use all its influence in Syria to end these inhumane actions against a defenceless civilian population.

Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin said Flanagan’s formal talks with Russian ambassador Maxim Peshkov do not go far enough, however.

Mideast Syria Aleppo Voices File photo of smoke rising over Saif Al Dawla district in Aleppo, Syria. Source: Manu Brabo/PA

Expel

He wants the Dáil to debate whether to expel Peshkov, in a bid to highlight Ireland’s concerns over the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city.

“The savagery being unleashed in Aleppo at present rivals anything in the history of human conflict,” Griffin said.

The world cannot ignore this situation and even small countries like Ireland must make our protestations heard. Numerous reports from reputable agencies have indicated that Russia is complicit in the carrying out of war crimes in Syria.

“As a nation, we cannot allow such actions to occur without repercussion and I hope that the Dáil will give this matter full attention at the earliest possible time.”

A year of Russian airstrikes

Around 3,800 Syrian civilians have been killed in one year of Russian air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, a monitoring group said today.

They are among more than 9,300 people who have died in the raids since September 30, 2015, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The toll also includes more than 5,500 fighters from the Islamic State jihadist group and various rebel factions, the British-based monitor said.

At least 20,000 civilians were wounded in the Russian raids, it said.

The Observatory – which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information – says it determines what planes carried out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

Mideast Syria Russia Talks The Russian air force at Hemeimeem airbase in Syria. Source: Vladimir Isachenkov

Death toll

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the death toll from Russia strikes could be even higher given the number of people killed by unidentified warplanes.

The Kremlin said last night it would press on with its bombing campaign, blaming the surge in violence on Washington’s failure to control rebels in Aleppo.

Save the Children said the use of the “earthquake bombs” which burrow four to five metres into the ground before exploding meant even underground schools were unsafe.

In a statement, it said:

Schools in eastern Aleppo were due to re-open for the new school year tomorrow, but as the city continues to suffer a ferocious assault they will remain closed, depriving almost 100,000 school-age children of an education, while they continue in fear for their lives.

With reporting from AFP.

- © AFP, 2016

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