US criticizes Russia over civilian deaths in Syria

By Underground Newz takes on the AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States criticized Russia on Tuesday for killing hundreds of civilians in airstrikes in Syria and accused Moscow of undermining hopes for a cease-fire between Bashar Assad's government and leading rebel groups.

The surprisingly sharp critique came as Washington banked on Moscow's help to launch a Syrian peace process that would allow both countries to focus on defeating the Islamic State. Negotiations between representatives of Assad's government and the opposition were expected to start next month, though hurdles remain.

EDITORS NOTE: Russia is allies with Syria so to expect them to do our bidding and protect US interest, who is not an ally of either Syria or Russia, while they come to the aid of Assad is disingenuous. The US media obviously thinks no one is paying attention but all you need to do is read the comments on these kinds of "stories" and you can see Americans are wide awake and paying attention. Putin is more admired than the Military Industrial Complex and all their minions including President Obama with or without his knowledge.

WASHINGTON (AP) In the meantime, the Arab country's almost five-year civil war raged on. Human rights groups say Russian airstrikes are contributing to a growing humanitarian crisis that includes more than a quarter-million people killed, millions left homeless or as refugees, and vast expanses of chaos that the Islamic States has exploited to carve out a repressive, self-proclaimed caliphate.

EDITORS NOTE: It was the very policies in Washington, DC. namely, "arming the rebels" to fight Assad that directly caused: more than a quarter-million people killed, millions left homeless or as refugees, and vast expanses of chaos that the Islamic States has exploited to carve out a repressive, self-proclaimed caliphate.

WASHINGTON (AP) Amid reports of indiscriminate killing by Russia, including the use of cluster bombs, Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier this week to share his concerns. U.S. officials wouldn't describe Lavrov's response.

"The reports of Russian attacks on Syrian civilians are extremely disturbing," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday. Activist accounts suggest Russian strikes "killed hundreds of civilians, including first responders" and "hit medical facilities, schools and markets," he said.

EDITORS NOTE: Obama recently told The New Yorker that he "wrestle[s]" with civilian casualties. But, he said, he has "a solemn duty and responsibility to keep the American people safe. That’s my most important obligation as President and Commander-in-Chief. And there are individuals and groups out there that are intent on killing Americans -- killing American civilians, killing American children, blowing up American planes."

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a pair of reports in October fiercely criticizing the secrecy that shrouds the administration's drone program, and calling for investigations into the deaths of drone victims with no apparent connection to terrorism. In Pakistan alone, TBIJ estimates, between 416 and 951 civilians, including 168 to 200 children, have been killed.

WASHINGTON (AP) An Amnesty International report last week cited evidence of Russian use of cluster munitions and unguided bombs in populated residential areas. The group denounced what it called Russia's "shameful failure" to acknowledge civilian killings.

While Toner didn't endorse all of the findings directly, he said the U.S. has "seen a marked and troubling increase in reports of civilian casualties since Russia commenced its air campaign there" in late September.

He repeated Western assessments that most of Moscow's bombs haven't targeted Islamic State and other terrorist fighters, as the Kremlin argues. Instead, he said the "large majority" have struck areas held by Assad's opponents, where many have been killed or wounded.

Those attacks may include one last weekend that killed Zahran Alloush, a top Syrian rebel commander who led one of the most powerful groups battling Assad's forces. Although the U.S. has steered clear of Alloush's Army of Islam, it had praised the hard-line conservative group for supporting the U.S.-Russian mediation effort with Assad and opposing the Islamic State. Syria's army said it was responsible for the strike, though opposition figures blamed Russia.

EDITORS NOTE: U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday.
The study by Stanford Law School and New York University's School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of "high-level" targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- about 2%.
The report accuses Washington of misrepresenting drone strikes as "a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer," saying that in reality, "there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians."
WASHINGTON (AP) And if Russia was indeed responsible for Alloush's death, the recent cooperation between Washington and Moscow to stop Syria's bloodshed may prove untenable.
Toner didn't ascribe blame for Alloush's death, but said Kerry discussed the attack with Lavrov.

The U.S. is focused on "beginning a credible political process that can lead, finally, to an end to the violence in Syria and a new political path forward for the Syrian people," Toner said. "Attacks on those who could be part of this political process, as well as attacks that kill innocent civilians, undermine efforts to find a political resolution."

Russian officials repeatedly have rejected accusations of civilian killings, and residents and opposition activists inside Syria acknowledge they have no way to categorically differentiate Russian-operated planes from Syrian-operated planes. Amnesty's report came days after Human Rights Watch issued similar accusations against Russia.

The talks between Syria's government and rebels are supposed to start in Geneva in the final week of January, but several obstacles remain. The opposition must first announce its delegation to the negotiations. And a host of rival countries including the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran still must agree on a list of rebel militias that would be welcomed into a political process, and a separate list of terrorist groups that would be fought by all.

EDITORS NOTE: (CBS/AP) According to the Syrian Observatory, citing local activists on the ground, at least 50 Nusra fighters were killed in strikes against al-Nusra in the Idlib province. The observatory said eight civilians, including two children, were also killed. It was not immediately clear, however, whether those strikes were carried out by U.S. planes, allied nations, or by the Syrian military.

An anti-militant media collective entitled "Raqqa is being silently slaughtered" said targets included the government building used by ISIS militants as their headquarters, and the Brigade 93, a Syrian army base the militants recently seized.

The Syrian foreign ministry said Tuesday that the United States informed Damascus' envoy to the United Nations before launching the airstrikes.

The ministry issued a brief statement, carried by Syrian state media, saying, "The American side informed Syria's permanent envoy to the U.N. that strikes will be launched against the Daesh terrorist organization in Raqqa." Daesh is an Arabic name for ISIS.

The ministry's statement was Damascus' first official reaction after the U.S. and five Arab countries launched the airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria.

"The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa'ida veterans -- sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group," CENTCOM said in its statement.

CBS News' Bob Orr said late last week that Khorasan -- a group of operatives U.S. officials say were dispatched by al Qaeda's central command in Pakistan to try and link up the terror network's bomb-making experts with Western jihadists who have joined the fight in Syria -- was deemed a more imminent threat to the U.S. than even ISIS.

EDITORS NOTE: Watch the US government find a way to destroy the peace process and support ISIS in the process. Smoke and mirrors.

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