Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for possible war crimes involving civilians being targeted in Syria, a rights group has said, in an in-depth report that calls for sanctions to be imposed on "those responsible".
Russian and Syrian government forces engaged in a deliberate and systematic strategy of illegally targeting civilian infrastructure in Idlib between April 2019 and March 2020 that may also amount to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in the 167-page publication.
The advocacy group documented dozens of strikes on hospitals, schools and markets during the offensive to recapture the rebel-held province, which ended in a ceasefire in March after at least 1,700 civilians were killed.
"The attacks seriously impaired the rights to health, education, food, water, and shelter, triggering mass displacement," the New York-based group said.
"The nature and scale of the airstrikes and ground attacks on civilians committed... may amount to crimes against humanity," the report added.
Attacking civilians is a war crime when it done deliberately or recklessly. When conducted in a widespread or systematic manner, such attacks may amount to crimes against humanity.