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    Belgium “categorically” refuting Russian accusations

    © Belga
    Belgium is refuting accusations of lethal fire in the town of Khassadjek in the Aleppo province.
    © Belga

    The Belgian government has “categorically” refuted Russian accusations as to Belgian participation of Belgian F-16s in the bombings in the region of Aleppo in Syria.
    These are thought to have caused several civilian casualties.

    “No plane from the Belgian Air Component (Air Force) has been deployed in the province of Aleppo in recent days,” asserted the Foreign Affairs Minister, Didier Reynders, and the Defence Minister, Steven Vandeput, in a communiqué.

    The communiqué went on, “These Russian accusations are completely without foundation or substance.”

    Both ministers further said, “Belgium strongly regrets that no prior consultation took place to properly establish the facts before the accusations were made public.”

    The text added, “These accusations underline the question of a possible motive behind these accusations against both Belgium and the International Coalition against Daesh/ISIS.”

    According to the government, the participation of all Belgian F-16s in this mission is occurring per the strictest rules of engagement for the employment of deadly force.

    The communiqué stresses, “The primary concern of Belgian pilots, even above the success of their mission based on purely military criteria, is as much as possible to avoid causing civilian collateral damage.”

    It goes on, “To attain this aim, a large number of prior checks are made before potentially lethal fire or detonation happens.”

    Yesterday, Russia made these accusations against the Belgian Air Component, which is part of the International Coaltion fighting against so-called Islamic State (IS).

    This coalition is being controlled by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria.

    It has already killed six civilians, during bombings in the Syrian region of Aleppo.

    “Six individuals were killed and four others injured to varying degrees, following a bombing which destroyed two houses” in the night of Monday evening through to Tuesday morning, in the town of Khassadjek located in the Aleppo province.

    This had been indicated by the Russian Defence Minister in a communiqué.

    He stated clearly, “Russian and Syrian aeroplanes were not present in this zone. However, aeroplanes from the International Coalition were carrying out missions in the region.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times