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Spain says Russia cancels Syria-bound warships fuel stop Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Spain says Russia cancels Syria-bound warships fuel stop

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov passes through the English channel on October 21 [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2016

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Russia's embassy in Madrid says Moscow has withdrawn its request to refuel a fleet of Russian warships in Spain that could be used to ramp up air attacks in Syria.

Russia has cancelled plans to stop at a Spanish port to refuel warships heading for the Syrian coast, Spain's foreign ministry said on Wednesday, after Madrid came under pressure to refuse permission.

"The Russian embassy in Madrid has just told us that it is withdrawing its demand for permission to stop over for the boats, which means that the stop-overs have been cancelled," the ministry said in a statement.

Britain earlier on Wednesday expressed concern that NATO ally Spain was considering refuelling the Russian ships.

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and a task group of support vessels have steamed through the North Sea and English Channel in recent days heading to the Mediterranean Sea.

"Neither Spain nor any other country should refuel or provide any other logistical support to Russian warships en route to Syria, given the substantial risk that these ships will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," said Samah Hadid, Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office.

“Russia’s attacks across Syria, including the relentless bombardment of Aleppo, have resulted in countless civilian casualties and caused massive destruction in residential areas.

"We have documented evidence that Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have callously attacked residential homes, medical facilities, schools, markets and mosques as part of a deliberate military strategy to empty Aleppo of its inhabitants and seize control."

The statement comes as at least 22 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Wednesday hitting a school and the surrounding area in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Seven children were among those killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "warplanes – either Russia or Syrian – carried out six strikes" in the village of Hass, including on a school complex.

“This military convoy will only bolster Russia’s efforts, risking further war crimes and other serious violations of international law,” Amnesty's Hadid added.

Agencies contributed to this report

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