HRW: Russian intervention in Syria was funded at expense of Russian taxpayers

Human Rights Watch reported that as all parties to the Syrian conflict are committing serious violations of the laws of war, the Russian intervention was characterized by the indiscriminate bombing of schools, hospitals and markets, and cost Moscow millions of dollars collected from the Russian people’s taxes.

As Russia enters its sixth year in Syria, the organization considered that Russian taxpayers may not know that they are financing the violations at their expense, adding that tax revenues are being used to bomb hospitals and schools in Syria.

The Russian military intervention in Syria is the deployment of unmanned attack and reconnaissance aircraft, in addition to elements of the armed forces, including military advisors and air observers, to support the Damascus government forces in the field, and to provide training and advice to them.

According to the organization, there are more than 20 million Russians living in poverty, and many of them struggle to obtain basic health care, food and education, and the organization indicated that worried Russian citizens must act in the face of their authorities.

In the first six months of his military intervention, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the war had cost the country about 33 billion rubles, while a government anonymous official revealed to Russian media outlets in late 2015 that the war was costing Moscow 244 million rubles per day, but the amount nearly doubled to 444 million rubles a day.

The organization quoted a military report stating that each air strike costs about 5.5 million rubles, and therefore Russia has spent more than one billion rubles a week to launch and organize air strikes.

Another report indicated that the war in Syria had cost Russia up to 245 billion rubles from September 2015 to March 2018, while the total of air and missile strikes alone amounted to 209 billion rubles.

The organization uncovered an explosion targeting a school, on January 5, 2020, and specifically the Khaled Bashir Primary School in the Ariha region (Idlib governorate, northern Syria), while Syrian and Russian officials confirmed that their attacks in Idlib were targeting “terrorists.”

The organization confirmed that based on 100 victims and witnesses, and analyzing dozens of satellite images, and more than 550 video clips, which showed no evidence of fighters or military targets in the vicinity of this attack, or any of the other 45 attacks.

Adding that these repeated attacks on civilian infrastructure in populated areas, where there were no apparent military targets, may have been the aim of depriving civilians of the means to support themselves and forcing them to flee.