UN, September 17. /TASS/. Russia’s UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, said Russian aircraft did no damage to civilian facilities in Syria’s Idlib governorate, demonstrating images of those buildings before and after the alleged airstrikes.
At a news conference on Monday, Nebenzya dismissed accusations by UN officials and a number of countries, that Russian airstrikes in Syria allegedly targeted hospitals in Idlib. According to the Russian diplomat, the United Nations has no observers on the ground, and, therefore, has to rely on information from questionable sources.
To support his words, Nebenzya demonstrated images of humanitarian facilities in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which were reportedly damaged in Russian airstrikes.
"You can see that the facilities the photos of which were taken before, stay intact on the recent photos that were taken after the alleged attacks," he said.
At the same time, the Russian diplomat warned that terrorists may take shelter in facilities which they themselves earlier requested to put on the deconfliction list.
"You are a fighter on a battlefield. Suppose fighter jets are coming. You have a choice to hide in the nearest empty building or go into the one, which you reported as 'de-conflicted', hoping that it would not be hit, since the UN shared its coordinates," he said. "Also, would you try to use this arrangement for your military advantage? Why not? The only thing, which can stop you, is the respect for Geneva Conventions, which directly forbid to use civilian infrastructure to shield military objects, since that would compromise protected status (Additional protocol 1, Article 12). But would you expect Al-Nusra [terrorist organization, outlawed in Russia] to respect the IHL? I would not."
At the news conference, Nebenzya reiterated Moscow’s readiness to provide the UN board on inquiry with all the information required.
"We have not been approached by anybody yet," he added.
In late July, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres resolved to set up the United Nations Board on Inquiry in northwest Syria, which will begin its work on September 30. An inquiry for such a probe was issued by ten members of the UN Security Council, namely the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Peru, Poland, Kuwait, the Dominican Republic, and Indonesia.
The Russian foreign ministry described this decision as provocative. Moreover, it called to question the secretary general’s competences for taking such decision without the UN Security Council’s approval. Meanwhile, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said that Moscow would share all information it had on incidents in Idlib with the United Nations.