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  1. ITV Report

Russia hits back at Boris Johnson's Syria 'war crime slur'

Johnson condemned the 'barbaric' bombing of rebel-held areas in Aleppo Credit: Reuters

Russia has reacted furiously to Boris Johnson's suggestion its forces may be guilty of war crimes in Syria, as criticism of Moscow's role in Syria's conflict continue to mount.

The foreign secretary earlier condemned the "barbaric" bombing of rebel-held areas in Aleppo and said Moscow was "protracting" the conflict through military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Johnson also said, in an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, that the bombing of an aid convoy - which has been widely blamed on Russian force - could be considered a war crime.

When it comes to instances such as the bombing of aid targets in Aleppo, we should be looking at whether or not that targeting is done in the knowledge that those are wholly innocent civilian targets, that is a war crime.

– Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson called for a tougher response to Russian action in Syria Credit: BBC/ Andrew Marr Show

The Russian foreign ministry hit back petulantly on Sunday by suggesting British forces were guilty of war crimes in Iraq.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova retorted that Britain should look to its own record before criticising Russia.

"The foreign minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson said in a broadcast of the BBC that Russia is guilty of protracting civil war in Syria and, possibly, of committing war crimes in the form of air attacks on convoys with humanitarian aid," she said.

"All this is right except for two words: Instead of 'Russia' it needs to be 'Great Britain' and instead of 'Syria,' 'Iraq."'

Speaking in the UN, Samantha Power equated Russia's actions in Syria to barbarism Credit: Reuters

But Mr Johnson - who urged the West to take stronger action, saying they were "too impotent" in response to the situation in Syria - is not alone in his criticism of Russia's actions.

The French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also warned Russia and Iran risked becoming accomplices in war crimes in Syria, while the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, equated Russia's actions in Syria to "barbarism".

Also speaking in the UN, Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told the Security Council on Sunday that peace in Syria was "almost an impossible task now".

Britain's UN representative Matthew Rycroft joined the US and French ambassadors in walking out of an emergency session of the Security Council, accusing Syria's representative of showing no interest in halting the country's bloody civil war.

Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the UN. Credit: Reuters

"After five years of conflict, you might think that the regime has had its fill of barbarity - that its sick bloodlust against its own people has finally run its course," Mr Rycroft said.

"But this weekend, the regime and Russia have instead plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo."

Meanwhile, in Syria, warplanes continued to bombard a camp on the northern edge of Aleppo as Syrian government forces, back by Russia, fought for control of the city.