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No Bomb Zone Now – A man protests in Whitehall, London, against the deliberate targeting of civilians in Aleppo.
Image by alisdare1
Possibly the worst war crime of the twenty first century has been the continued and deliberate assault on civilians in rebel held East Aleppo by Assad’s regime forces, allied militia units from Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah as well as the continuous assault from the air by the Syrian and Russian air forces.
To call such air assaults indiscriminate would be wrong since they have clearly been targeted to maximize civilian casualties. Activists inside Aleppo have shown strong evidence of the use of chlorine and other gas against the civilian population and journalists and doctors have confirmed the deliberate targeting of hospitals, often with second strikes to kill the rescuers.
I rarely find myself in agreement with a Conservative MP but when Andrew Mitchell writes that "the Russians are committing war crimes and using their position as a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council to shield themselves from international humanitarian law… they are hitting hospitals with bunker-busting bombs and attacking civilians cowering in cellars. They are using cluster and incendiary munitions" he is absolutely right but only a few on Britain’s left seem willing to take to the streets to demand a halt the bombing with a few admirable exceptions.
On 17th December a crowd of over a thousand protesters marched through London to protest against the lack of any resolute Western action to secure a permanent ceasefire in East Aleppo and to prevent the continued bombing of civilians by Russian and Syrian aircraft.
They chanted "Down with the child killer Assad" and "Shame on war criminal Putin" and demanded the British government take action to halt the conflict and the suffering of thousands of children who remain besieged in the city.
Already two months ago Zeid Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, had called the siege and bombardment of Eastern Aleppo "crimes of historic proportions."
Opposition activists in Aleppo have reported that Russian aircraft have persistently targeted hospitals and other civilian targets along with the continued use of barrel bombs by the Syrian airforce as Syria’s tyrant Assad vowed to "clean" the city.
No ambulances, no working hospitals and no medical equipment remains to treat up to 30,000 civilians still trapped in the war zone.
There has also been criticism of American and British air strikes but some distance from Aleppo itself in other areas of Syria with an estimate of between 500 and 700 civilians killed as of April 2016 reported by the website Airwars and the United States admitting that its rules regarding collateral civilian damage are even laxer than those used in drone strikes ( Economist 4th October 2014 – "Unintended Consequences: Are US Airstrikes creating a Sunni backlash" ).
However the number of casualties from Russian air strikes appears to be much higher with claims of up to 8,479 non-combatants reportedly killed as of 11th October 2016 according to the monitoring website Airwars.
UAV Media Demonstartion
Image by LAFD
On Thursday, December 14th, the Los Angeles Fire Department provided a media demonstration of the UAVs, better known as drones. The LAFD drone fleet consists of two DJI Matrice 100s and two DJI Phantom 4 Pros. One Matrice 100 is equipped with a HD camera for area survey and the second Matrice 100 has Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) to assess hotspots. For more information and to view the footage from the demonstration, go to: bit.ly/lafdUAV
Photo Use Permitted via Creative Commons – Credit: LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin