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Russia denies war crimes committed over hospital airstrikes in Syria

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 16, 2016 at 7:09 AM
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MOSCOW, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Russia on Tuesday denied it committed war crimes following the bombing of at least four hospitals in areas of northern Syria held by rebels.

Nearly 50 people died in the missile attacks on Monday that also targeted two schools.The United Nations said the attacks were deliberate and could amount to war crimes.

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Turkey's Foreign Ministry has blamed Russia for the airstrikes. Dmitry Peskov, press spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the Kremlin "categorically rejects" the accusations, adding that "those who make such statements are not capable of backing them up with proof."

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the bombing of civilian targets "casts doubt on Russia's willingness and/or ability to help bring to a stop the continued brutality of the Assad regime against its own people."

Doctors Without Borders, known officially as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, said one of the hospitals in the Idlib province it supports was subjected to airstrikes that killed at least seven people.

The latest strike follows another on an MSF hospital earlier this month that killed three in the Dara'a governorate, near the Jordanian border. In October, an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. airstrike that killed 42 people, including patients and medical staff.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said international officials meeting in Germany to work toward a cease-fire in Syria between the regime and rebels to end the five-year civil war reached an agreement toward halting hostilities. The agreement does not address ongoing fighting between government and coalition forces against terror groups, including the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front.

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