By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

DAMASCUS, Syria – Russian President Vladimir Putin met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem the resort town of Sochi for talks on Wednesday, the Kremlin said. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin and Moualem were discussing “bilateral relations.” He declined any further comment. Moualem was also expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Moscow has supported the Assad regime throughout the Syrian Civil War, supplying the regime with arms and other supplies.

A Syrian government helicopter dropped two barrel bombs on a camp occupied by displaced civilians last month in the country’s northern region. (Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

Moualem’s two-day visit to Russiamay be a sign that Russia is attempting to renew ties with the Assad regime in an effort by Putin’s Russia to restart peace talks aimed at seeking an end to the Syrian Civil War. Peace talks held in Geneva collapsed earlier this year. However, Western analysts and diplomats say the renewed push by the Putin Government is unlikely to be fruitful because of splits between world powers of the fate of the Assad regime, which many accuse of committing several war crimes including widespread and systematic abuses of human rights which include indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations.

Last month Syrian government helicopter dropped two barrel bombs on a camp filled with civilians displaced by fighting in the country’s northern region. The attack reportedly killed at least 40 people at the camp near al-Habeet in the northern province of Idlib on October 29th. According to an activists, the majority of the people killed in the attack were and no presence of armed groups was reported in the vicinity of the camp. Footage of the attack was uploaded to YouTube, in the video a voice can be heard saying “it’s a massacre of refugees.” He said “Let the whole world see this, they are displaced people. Look at them, they are civilians, displaced civilians. They fled the bombardment.” According to the United Nations, Nearly 10 million people have been displaced in Syria since the start of the country’s Civil War in 2011. An estimated 3 million refugees have fled the country and the conflict has killed close to 200,000 people.

Barrel bombs are crudely made bombs made of barrels or other containers filled with nails, metal shrapnel and explosive which are often dropped from helicopters. The bombs are extremely indiscriminate and are often used to attack civilian populations in areas that are believed to support rebels fighting the Assad regime as a form of collective punishment. The Assad has continued using barrel bombs in civilian areas despite a UN resolution banning their use.

For more information please see:

The Jerusalem Post – Russia’s Putin Holds Talks with Syrian Foreign Minister – 26 November 2014

Reuters – Russia’s New Push for Syria Dialogue Unlikely To Be Fruitful – 26 November 2014

Al Jazeera – Many Killed In Syria Barrel Bomb ‘Massacre’ – 26 October 2014

The Guardian – Barrel Bombs Hit Syrian Refugee Camp, Say Residents – 26 October 2014

 

Author: Kathryn Maureen Ryan