Syrians Accuse Russia of Hitting Hospital in New Complaint Filed with UN Rights Committee

A Syrian man walks across an empty street at Shehel after the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) imposed their control over the town, in Deir ez-Zor province, eastern Syria, 09 September 2023. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI
A Syrian man walks across an empty street at Shehel after the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) imposed their control over the town, in Deir ez-Zor province, eastern Syria, 09 September 2023. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI
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Syrians Accuse Russia of Hitting Hospital in New Complaint Filed with UN Rights Committee

A Syrian man walks across an empty street at Shehel after the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) imposed their control over the town, in Deir ez-Zor province, eastern Syria, 09 September 2023. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI
A Syrian man walks across an empty street at Shehel after the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) imposed their control over the town, in Deir ez-Zor province, eastern Syria, 09 September 2023. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI

A Syrian man and an aid organization have accused Russia of violating international law by deliberately bombing a hospital in northern Syria in 2019, in a new complaint filed at the United Nations Human Rights Committee this week.
Russia, which intervened militarily in Syria's conflict in 2015 to bolster the forces of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, has been accused by UN investigators of committing war crimes in Syria, but has not faced any international tribunal.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that it violated international law in Syria, Reuters reported.
The new complaint, filed on May 1 but made public on Thursday, accuses Russia's Air Force of killing two civilians in a series of air strikes on the Kafr Nobol Surgical Hospital in the northwest province of Idlib on May 5, 2019.
It was brought to the committee by the cousin of those killed and by Hand in Hand for Aid and Development, an aid group that was supporting the hospital, which was in territory held by armed groups opposed to Assad.
The complaint relies on videos, eyewitness statements and audio recordings, including correspondence between a Russian pilot and ground control about dropping munitions.
"Syrians are looking to the Human Rights Committee to show us some measure of redress by acknowledging the truth of this brutal attack, and the suffering caused," said Fadi al-Dairi, the director of Hand in Hand.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts that monitors the status of political and civil rights around the world, and can receive complaints by states and individuals on alleged violations.
Individual complaints can lead to compensation payments, investigations or other measures.
While rights groups have accused both Syria and Russia of violating international law within Syria for years, neither country is party to the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute, and opportunities for accountability are rare.
Russia signed onto the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1991, meaning it accepts the Human Rights Committee's ability to consider complaints from individuals against it.
"This complaint before a preeminent international human rights tribunal exposes the Russian government and armed forces' deliberate strategy of targeting healthcare in clear violation of the laws of war," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Justice Initiative, whose lawyers are representing the applicants.
In 2019, the UN Human Rights Commission - a separate body - said strikes on medical facilities in Syria including the Kafr Nobol hospital "strongly" suggested that "government-affiliated forces conducting these strikes are, at least partly, if not wholly, deliberately striking health facilities".



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.