February 11th, 2016

Putin’s War Crimes in Syria shocked European media.

Leading German daily tabloid Das Bild has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "war criminal."

According to the article ran by the medium, the Russian army is not only providing support to the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in his crimes, but also involved in the bombing of Syrians.

This week, humanitarian organizations warned of a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Syria as a result of Russian airstrikes.

According to Bild, the airstrikes began to target "border crossings between Syria and Turkey, and the roads used to deliver food, water, and medicines." An important checkpoint of Bab al-Salam, where trucks delivering food, fuel, and essential civilian supplies in Syria used to gather, was impacted three times over the past five days.

"Another humanitarian catastrophe is looming there as a result," Director of Mercy Corps' operations in North Syria and Turkey stressed. According to him, the charity organization was able to deliver only one-fifth of the planned volume of food since the beginning of the Russian campaign in Syria.Source:

According to UN report, Russian airstrikes have also destroyed 10 bakery plants supplying bread to almost 200,000 people in the Syrian Idlib province since Nov. 24. Several mills and grain elevators were covered by the airstrikes as well. The sewage treatment plant was also destroyed in the ISIS-controlled Aleppo province, although it was passed by Russia as an Islamic State's oil refinery.

Exclusive report obtained from Aleppo Syria reveal on Monday, Jan. 11th Russian warplanes pounded an elementary school in the town of Khan Tooman killing scores of children. This heinous attack was simultaneous with a raid by the Iranian regime sectarian militants in coordination with the Russian airplanes.

The area of attack is under the control of the Free Syrian Army. Three consecutive attacks on this school has left more than 35 children killed and over 90 others wounded. The children were during examination when the attacks took place.

Both the Observatory and the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) put the civilian death toll from Russian strikes at between 1,000 and 1,200.

A similar picture is revealed by refugee movements since 30 September when the bombing campaign began. Over a hundred thousand refugees have fled to the Turkish and Jordanian borders. Between 5 and 22 October last year the UN reported that Russian air strikes led to the displacement of 120,000 people from Aleppo, Hama and Idlib.

Under the doctrine of "command responsibility," which was first established in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and first applied after World War I, top officials can be prosecuted for failing to stop war crimes and other atrocities that they were aware of, he said.

"The use of barrel bombing is a war crime. The use of indiscriminate attacks on civilians is a war crime," he said. "To the extent that the Russian or Iranian governments have provided economic assistance, military assistance, and the presence of advisors or supporters, any crimes that are being committed by the Syrian military are also attributable to those who assist them, namely the Iranians and the Russians."

In addition to over 2,000 barrel bombs the Assad regime has dropped on civilians since July, there is evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against civilians and employed systematic torture to kill at least 11,000 civilians in custody. All of these actions could form the basis for future prosecutions against the Assad military and top Syrian officials, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Any accountability for war crimes in Syria is probably years away, and Russia has already vetoed efforts to refer the Syria charges to the International Criminal Court. But if a prosecution happens, the experts say, Putin could be held responsible just as Taylor was.

"The Russians are walking into a situation where they could be held criminally responsible," said Stephen Rapp, who served as the United States ambassador at large for war crimes from 2009 until this year. "If you aid the Syrian air force in committing war crimes such as dropping barrel bombs on civilians, you can find yourself held responsible right up to the top, including President Putin."

As Russian involvement in Syria increases, those who track war crimes are watching not just Assad, but also Putin.

What is Vladimir Putin’s true Syria game?

President Vladimir Putin is actively misinforming his domestic audience and the international community about Russia’s first military intervention outside the former Soviet Union since Afghanistan. Putin has created a false narrative about the Islamic State of Iraq and alSham (ISIS) to disguise the true objectives behind Russia’s intervention Syria and is using this narrative to manipulate the international community.

The Putin's "war on terror" in Syria is a massive fraud based on deception and illusion. The official statements said that Russia needs to take “responsibility” to start the War on Terror. “Responsibility” is the Orwellian newspeak for: bomb, attack, invade, occupy, kill, genocide, plunder, devastate sovereign nations under the pretext of some staged reason or a simple lie. The same Kremlin responsibility killed at least 2 000 000 Afghans in 1980 - 1990. The same Kremlin “responsibility” was killing more than 200 000 civilians in Chechnya in 1994-2000. The same Kremlin “responsibility” was killing thousands of innocent civilians in Ukraine in 2014-2015.

Still, oil prices were the key reason for Putinist Russia to enter into Syrian conflict. Oil and gas sales bring in nearly 50 percent of Russia’s government revenues; they also account for 70% percent of Russia’s export proceeds. Russian nominal GDP due to the fall of oil and gas prices has shrunk more than twice since 2014. Now it is likely that Italy, India, Canada, Spain and Australia and even New York city, are all more economically significant than Russia. Moscow is so dependent on oil sales to keep its economy chugging along that Russia is estimated to lose $2 billion in potential sales for every dollar the price of oil drops.

Before Putin intervened in Syrian conflict, he tried to settle the deal with Saudis. Saudi officials met with Russian bigwigs during August 2015 to settle the deal over Syria and oil prices. No doubt that Kremlin offered to disband Assad regime in exchange for boost of oil-prices. But sides didn’t produce the right outcome for either side. After that meeting, the Saudi King meets with President Obama and announces Saudi support for the Iran nuke deal. Then Moscow begins to fly in Russian tanks and ground troops to Syria, and some leading-edge fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles. After Kremlin plan to reason with Saudis over oil prices failed, Putin desperately needs to create chaos in the Middle East in order to raise the oil prices.

Putin is also using his forces in Syria for blocking construction of oil and natural gas pipeline corridor through the Middle East to Europe. The more Putin can entrench himself in the Middle East, the more he can exert control over energy markets. With Syria, Iran and Iraq in his sphere of influence, Putin can block any alternative supply of oil and gas to Europe and begin to force E.U. to rely on him again for supplies and rise up the prices for oil and natural gas considerably.

The U.S. State Department reported that more than 90% of Russian airstrikes and cruise missiles landed within territory controlled by non-ISIS rebels.

That is why the main target of Russian forces in Syria is not ISIS, the main target is pro-Western “rebels”. After U.K. joins France and US in bombing ISIS, Bashar Assad has called Britain’s airstrikes on ISIS “harmful and illegal”. The same way he reacted on US airstrikes, then why some people believe that Putin and Assad fight with ISIS?

ISIS includes an estimated 7,000 foreign fighters from the former Soviet Union and declared its own governorate in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region. Russia’s air campaign is focused on targeting Syrian armed opposition groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than ISIS. Kremlin dreams to transfer ISIS terrorist activities from Syria to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, where terrorists can hit oil pipes, which in turn will give Russia additional hundreds of billions dollars in potential oil and gas export revenue.

Putin is also getting involved in Syria in order to distract attention from his continued expansionism in Ukraine. That he is looking for something to trade in exchange for the West allowing Russian consolidation in Ukraine to continue. Looking around the globe, there aren't too many places where Russia can offer the West something it needs. Syria is one place where Russia could potentially help the U.S. and Europe achieve a necessary objective.

But Russia has no fundamental strategic interest in Assad or Syria. Putin is simply taking advantage of a target of opportunity.

Assad must know this -- but he’s also desperate to maintain the existence of his regime, as Putin told reporters (apparently with a chuckle) Monday during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit.

Nearly four months into its intervention, Russia is an active combatant in the Syrian civil war. This is not just an assertion. It is borne out by casualty figures and the refugee flows.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirm in their latest figures that Russian air strikes have killed more Syrian opposition fighters than they have Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Worse yet, any vestiges of a moderate resistance to Assad’s regime could be driven into Islamic State camps, should Russia’s strikes continue to leave those camps unscathed.

US administration is relaxed about letting Syrian fires burn, as any Syrian lobbyist in Washington will unhappily relate. Washington analysts is deeply sceptical about the prospect of an early solution to the war. They know Russia will get itself deeper and deeper into this conflict but they are not bothered by it. It was Putin's fundamental mistake to think that they were.

Each foreign intervention in Middle East creates its own dynamic. Russia's is no exception. Their bombing raids have left thousands more Syrian fighters with a score of their own to settle. They have TOW missiles and they pray for Russian tanks to come into range. The popular rage is great. Putin should not think he can re-arrange the Muslim House in Syria any more successfully than he has done so in the North Caucasus. That was the main reason why Kremlin accepted it's defeat in Syria and decided to withdraw.