3264 Killed including 911 Children and 619 Women
SNHR released its 23th report since the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria on 30 September 2015 which draws upon the daily monitoring and documentation in addition to interviews with survivors, victims’ families, or eyewitnesses where the report contains 10 accounts.
The report notes that the year of the Russian intervention saw two Cessation of Hostilities ceasefires, under Russian sponsorship where the first begun on 27 February 2016 where the second ceasefire commenced on 12 September 2016. Nonetheless, Russian forces breached the provisions of both ceasefires. Additionally, we noticed a decline in the rates of Russian attacks following the first agreement which lasted for an entire month especially after the Russian regime announced on 14 March that it would withdraw some of its forces. However, Russia returned to gradually escalate its attacks committing massacres and carrying out indiscriminate and deliberate airstrikes against residential neighborhoods. Eventually, the rates of attacks returned to its former levels before the Cessation of Hostilities which broke down completely with the end of July 2016 according to the report.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, chairman of SNHR, adds:
““Russia has been supporting the Syrian regime in the media and on the diplomatic scene since the first day of the Syrian uprising and have vetoed four times in its favor; the first of which was in November 2011 and most recently in 2014 when it prevented the referral of the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court which gave the Syrian regime a complete impunity. Additionally, Russia covered on the Syrian regime’s blatant violations of the Resolutions of the Security Council on Syria after 2011. Nonetheless, the Russian intervention on 30 September 2015 was a different thing entirely as the Russian land, sea, and air forces started carrying out strikes against the Syrian people and killed, destroyed, and committed war crimes. Based on the magnitude of the crimes we have recorded, most of the Syrian people sees Russia as a direct enemy and will never deem Russia, under any circumstances, an acceptable sponsor of the peace process. Furthermore, Russia’s long-term interests and investments in Syria won’t be safe from revenge and retaliations unless Russia changes its positions completely, withdraws its forces, and apologizes for the crimes, and redress for the victims and all the facilities it bombed.”
The report includes the attacks and military operations that were carried out by forces we believe are Russian between 30 September 2015 and 29 September 2016. We highlighted the most notable incidents we were able to document whether it took place in areas under the control of armed opposition factions or in ISIS-held areas
The report documents the killing of 3264 civilians including 911 children and 619 women in addition to 169 massacres that were perpetrated by forces that re evidently Russian during the period of time covered by the report. According to the report, among the victims were 32 medics, 11 civil defense personnel, and 12 media activists.
The report says that no less than 147 cluster attacks that have been recorded since 30 September 2015 where 144 attacks were in areas under the control of armed opposition factions while three attacks were in ISIS-held areas.
Moreover, the report notes that forces we believe are Russian used incendiary weapons 48 times at least in various Syrian governorates. Most of these attacks took place in June, July, and August of 2016.
The report records that 417 vital civil facilities were targeted including 25 facilities that were targeted more than once.
The report assures that the bombing, destruction, and killing by the Russian forces have displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and made them IDPs and refugees. We recorded that 59,000 individuals were affected directly by Russian attacks in Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, and Latakia governorates. Some of these people have settled in tents on the borders or in villages that are targeted but at a lower rate while we recorded that others returned to the cities from which they fled.
The report asserts that the Russian regime has, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, they violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
Also, the report says that the attacks targeted armless civilians. Therefore, the Russian forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Additionally, these violations were perpetrated in a non-international armed conflict which amount to a war crime where all elements were fulfilled.
Also, the recommendations included that the Security Council takes additional steps as it has been a year since Resolution 2254 was adopted which states explicitly “that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
The report emphasized the necessity to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and hold all those who are involved accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in perpetrating war crimes has been proven. Also, security and peace must be instilled in Syria and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect must be implemented in order to save the Syrians’ lives, culture, and arts from being destroyed, stolen, and ruined.
The report recommends that the incidents included in this report are to be investigated, the Syrian people to be informed about the findings of these investigations and the perpetrators to be held accountable. Also, the Russian regime should compensate the affected centers and facilities and rebuild and re-prepare them, and redress for all the families of the victims and wounded.
The report asserts that the targeting of hospitals, protected objects, and civil areas must be halted completely and that the customary international law must be respected.
Furthermore, the report calls on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report to the Human Rights Council and other United Nations organs on these serious incidents that the report documents.
Lastly, the report calls for the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect norm (ICRtopP) after all political channels through the Arab League’s plan and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan were drought out. Therefore, steps under Article 7 of the Rome Stature must be taken and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, must be implemented.