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Syrian rights group accuses regime, Russia of 'Grozny-style' destruction in Khan Sheikhoun Open in fullscreen

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Syrian rights group accuses regime, Russia of 'Grozny-style' destruction in Khan Sheikhoun

Khan Sheikhoun was subjected to intense destruction before its capture by the regime [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 September, 2019

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A Syrian rights group has released a report saying 75 percent of the buildings in Khan Sheikhoun have been wholly or partially destroyed by the Assad regime and Russia.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has accused Russia and the Syrian regime of using “Grozny-style” tactics in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, based on an analysis of satellite imagery.

Grozny, the capital of the Republic of Chechnya, was named the “most destroyed city on Earth” following a Russian scorched-earth campaign against rebels there in 1999 and 2000.

Analysing satellite photographs of Khan Sheikhoun taken on August 2 2019, SNHR found 220 points where buildings were “severely destroyed”.

It also said that approximately 35 percent of the city was “completely destroyed” while a further 40 percent had been “partially destroyed”, meaning that 75 percent of Khan Sheikhoun was wholly or partially destroyed.

Khan Sheikhoun was captured late last month in an Assad regime offensive against Idlib province, which began in April. In 2004, the city had a population of 34,000 but most of its inhabitants have now fled.

Syrian regime troops have engaged in a looting spree in the city and there have been reports of executions of elderly inhabitants who stayed behind.

In April 2017, Khan Sheikhoun was the site of a regime chemical weapons attack which killed at least 80 people.

The SNHR said that the extent of destruction in the city was very similar to that seen in the Ghouta area near Damascus in 2018 and east Aleppo in 2016, when these areas fell to the regime.

The human rights group said that “intense aerial carpet-bombing” of Khan Sheikhoun and other rebel-held areas was “not a chaotic process, but a deliberate strategy aimed at destroying as many buildings and facilities as possible to punish the inhabitants of those areas”.

The SNHR’s report said that aerial bombardment was responsible for “70 percent of the total destruction in Syria”, with nearly 3.1 million homes in the country being totally or partially destroyed by aerial bombardment.

The only actors to possess air forces in Syria are the Assad regime, Russia, and the US-led International Coalition against IS.

More than 500,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which broke out following the brutal suppression of anti-Assad protests in 2011.

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