Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov claimed on Monday that “mass graves of several dozens of Syrians who suffered atrocious torture and massacre” have been found near Aleppo.
According to the Associated Press, Russia’s Konashenkov said, “some of the bodies have been mutilated and some had gunshot wounds.”
“In many cases, body parts are missing; most victims had been shot in the head. And this, it seems, is only the beginning,” Konashenkov added, per Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik.
Sputnik quotes Konashenkov saying these “serious war crimes” would be publicized “so that European backers of the so-called opposition in London and Paris are well aware of who their wards actually are.”
He also claimed that the “moderate opposition” forces that held eastern Aleppo booby-trapped “literally everything, for which there was enough time and ammunition,” including the streets, entrances to premises, vehicles, motorcycles lying on roads, and even children’s toys.”
Another Associated Press report quotes the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting, “at least 63 Syrian soldiers and militiamen had been killed by such booby traps in east Aleppo since the government took control of it from rebels last Thursday.”
According to the Observatory, these casualties “were a mix of personnel removing landmines and soldiers or militiamen looting the districts.”
Konashenkov blasted the United Nations for its criticism of Russian and Syrian military efforts in a press conference on Friday, complaining that the United Nations stopped talking about the urgent need to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in Aleppo after the Syrian government took full control of the city.
He singled out Jan Egeland, chair of the UN humanitarian task force for Syria, saying that Egeland should “finally embark on real work of providing humanitarian aid to the residents of eastern Aleppo” instead of spreading “unsubstantiated allegations” about what the Russians and Syrian government have been doing in Aleppo. Konashenkov even implied that Egeland has been lying about how many civilians the UN has been assisting in Aleppo.
Russia and the Assad regime have been criticized for human rights violations in the siege of Aleppo, including civilian casualties from air and artillery strikes, interference with the delivery of humanitarian aid, and interference with efforts to evacuate civilians from the city. The Syrians and Russians, in turn, accuse rebel forces of committing all these offenses.
Egeland recently said Russia and the Assad government should be held accountable for atrocities committed by allied militia groups.
The AP notes that Christmas was celebrated in Aleppo for the first time in four years this weekend. Syrian President Bashar Assad paid a visit to a Christian orphanage in a Damascus suburb on Christmas, posing for photos with the nuns and orphans.