Siege, Chemical Weapons, Barrel Bombs, and International Silence
SNHR has published a report in which it documents the crimes against humanity and war crimes that led to the forced migration in Darayya city.
The report notes that all truces and reconciliations were implemented at the expense of negating the international humanitarian law. There would have been no need for any truce or reconciliation had the rules of the international humanitarian law had been implemented. All the truces and reconciliations, so to speak, were carried out under oppression and repression and in light of violating the international humanitarian law by siege, indiscriminate bombing, starvation, and prohibiting civilian residents and aids from getting into or outside the city. Under such conditions, the lesser of evils is to accept truces and reconciliations as no one would, under ordinary conditions, be willing to agree to a truce or a reconciliation with the ruling regime that violated many of these agreements and practiced in other cases the crime of enforced-migration which was carried out in a blatant manner in Homs, Darayya, and Banyas.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, chairman of SNHR, says:
“All these violations, which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes in some cases, will only lead to an inevitable outcome which is agreeing to an agreement. From our standpoint, we can’t possibly call this a truce or a settlement. The most accurate description would be the law of the jungle. When the international law is violated and the dictator brags about that, we must be living under the law of the jungle that forced the residents of Darayya to flee their homes.”
The report sheds light on the drastic changes in the demography of Syria over the past six years as a result of the killing, indiscriminate and deliberate bombing, and destruction. No less than seven million people been displaced and have become refugees while 6.3 million people have become IDPs. This situation is alarming and it is difficult to rectify this issue as it, sometimes, is getting worse while the United Nations and the international community are watching. Such demographic changes are dangerous and undoubtedly pose threats to the security of the entire region.
Additionally, the report highlights what the city has been subjected to since the beginning of the siege where the report starts with the siege rather than the beginning of the popular uprising in the city as the siege and its fallout were a primary cause for the rampant forced migration in the city. The report records the killing of no less than 817 civilians including 67 children and 98 women throughout the period of time covered by the report, Also, 65 incidents of attack against vital civil facilities have been recoded.
According to the report, government forces helicopters dropped no less than 7,846 barrel bombs on the city including barrel bombs loaded with flammable substance that is evidently napalm.
The report documents no less than 8 chemical attacks and three attacks that involved the use of cluster munition during the period of time covered by the report. Also, the report highlights the siege imposed on the city and its fallouts such as shortages in food and medicine which resulted in the death of nine individuals at least.
According to the report, there are still 4,311 forcibly-disappeared persons from Darayya where the regime arrested them and denied their existence. No one knows anything about their fate as of this writing.
The report affirms that the city was completely drained out as a result of the systematic and widespread violations. Therefore, the residents had no choice but to agree to the settlement that as proposed by the Syrian authorities. According to the settlement, all elements of the armed opposition factions had to leave for Idlib while the remaining civilians were transferred to special housing centers in Harjala area which is administratively affiliated to Al Kiswa city, located in Damascus suburbs and is under the control of government forces.
The report notes that SNHR believes that the forced migration was a result of systematic and widespread crimes that is similar, to a great extent, to the direct forced displacement through the use of weapons and violence. Certainly, the displacement of the resident of an entire city can’t be justified by any military necessity.
Finally, the report calls on the Security Council to bind the Syrian regime to cease the settlement and occupation process that is being carried out in the cities and neighborhoods whose residents have been displaced. Furthermore, the Security Council must work on insuring the refugees’ and IDPs’ right to return to their homes and to reacquire all of their lands and properties.