An editorial in the Washington Post begins: The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Friday demanding that “all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects” as well as “any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.” Less than 48 hours later, Russian planes carried out at least six airstrikes on civilian targets in the northern Syrian provincial capital of Idlib, killing scores of people. It was a blatant violation of the resolution Russia had just voted for — and an indication of how Vladimir Putin actually regards the diplomatic deals on Syria the Obama administration has been pushing.
According to local sources cited by Reuters and The Post’s Hugh Naylor, the Russian bombing struck a marketplace in the heart of Idlib as well as a courthouse. Rescue workers told Reuters they had confirmed 43 dead and that dozens more bodies had yet to be identified or pulled from the rubble. While the town is controlled by a rebel alliance composed mostly of Islamist factions, it is nowhere near territory held by the Islamic State. And few would argue that a souq was not a civilian target.
Not just the Security Council’s ambassadors should be embarrassed by this outrage. There is also Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who just last Tuesday emerged from a meeting with Mr. Putin saying that the Russian ruler would “take on board” Mr. Kerry’s objections to airstrikes on Syrian targets outside Islamic State-held land. Perhaps Mr. Putin tossed the U.S. concerns back overboard once Mr. Kerry had left Moscow. More likely, he never had any intention of altering Russia’s policy of proclaiming war against the Islamic State while focusing its fire on the forces opposed to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. [Continue reading…]