Over 1 000 civilians die in Russia's Syria strikes

Russian ground personnel load a Su-30 jet with weapons at Hemeimeem airbase, Syria. (Vladimir Kondrashov, AP)
Russian ground personnel load a Su-30 jet with weapons at Hemeimeem airbase, Syria. (Vladimir Kondrashov, AP)

Beirut - Russian airstrikes in Syria have killed more than 1 000 civilians since they were launched nearly four months ago, a monitor said on Wednesday.

The raids, which started on September 30, have killed 1 015 civilians, including more than 200 children, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground for its reports, said the strikes had also killed 893 Islamic State group jihadists and 1 141 other opposition militants, including members of al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Russia is a staunch ally of the Syrian government and has co-ordinated its strikes with Damascus, saying it is targeting ISIS and other "terrorist" groups.

But activists and rebels accuse Moscow of focusing more on moderate and Islamist opposition fighters than ISIS.

Russia has previously denounced accusations that its raids have killed civilians as "absurd" and said claims by rights groups of such deaths were made up of "clichés and fakes".

The Observatory says it differentiates between strikes by Russia, US-led coalition warplanes and the Syrian regime based on the type of aircraft and the munitions used.

A coalition led by Washington has also been carrying out strikes against ISIS in Syria since September 2014, but it does not co-ordinate its raids with Damascus.

Those strikes have killed 4 256 people since they began, among them 322 civilians, including over 90 children, according to the Observatory.

The monitor said the strikes had also killed 3 787 ISIS fighters and nearly 150 militants from other extremist groups including Al-Nusra.

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