42 Incidents of Attack on Vital Medical and Civil Defense Facilities in February 2017
SNHR has published its special monthly report that documents the violations against medical and civil defense personnel and their facilities by the conflict parties in Syria.
The report stresses that Syrian regime forces have been involved, since 2011, in targeting and bombing medical and civil defense facilities as well as the parties to the conflict that targeted medical and civil defense personnel in killing and arrest operations. This indicates a deliberate policy that only aims to kill more and deepen the suffering of the wounded whether they were civilians or armed.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR says:
“The Russian attacks on medical and civil defense centers as well as medical and civil defense personnel are considered a blatant violation of the international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes considering the chaotic, and in many cases, deliberate, targeting of protected objects. All of this have only deepened the suffering of the wounded and injured and is one of the main reasons behind the displacement of the Syrian people as it sends a very clear message: there is no safe area, or a red line, including hospitals, you either flee or perish”
The report notes that since the Ankara Ceasefire Agreement went into effect, there has been a decent and notable drop in the rates of killing throughout Syria in comparison with the previous months from March 2011 until now. The main focus here is the areas under the control of armed opposition factions, as the Syrian regime-held areas aren’t subjected to heavy, daily aerial bombardment, which has resulted in the killing of no less than 60% of the victims, and destroyed buildings, displacing the people of Syria. However, the report adds that breaches haven’t stopped, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be affected the most should the ceasefire go on, especially crimes of extrajudicial killing, and, more horrendously, dying due to torture, which strongly proves that there is some sort of ceasefire on the table. The crimes, however, that the international community wasn’t able to notice, and particularly the Turkish and Russian sponsors, are still ongoing as nothing has changed in that regard.
The report stresses that the rate of the Syrian regime forces’ violations against medical and civil defense personnel and their respective facilities in February has returned to its former levels before the ceasefire agreement went into effect. This proves that the Syrian regime is the most affected party by the ceasefire agreement.
The report documents the killing of nine medical and civil defense personnel in February 2017 which are divided into seven killed by Syrian regime forces, one by Kurdish Self-management forces, and one by other parties.
The report breaks down the victims, where Syrian regime forces killed one nurse, two paramedics, one medical personnel, and three civil defense personnel. Kurdish Self-management forces killed one paramedic, while attacks carried out by other parties (which includes groups we weren’t able to identify in addition to Turkish, Jordanian, and Lebanese forces) resulted in the killing of one doctor.
Furthermore, the report documents 42 incidents of attack on vital medical and civil defense facilities including 31 by the Syrian regime who targeted 11 medical facilities, six ambulances, 13 civil defense centers, and one Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) center. Additionally, the report records six incidents of attack on medical facilities at the hands of Russian forces, and one incident of attack on SARC center by armed opposition factions. In addition, the report documents three incidents of attack on three SARC facilities and one on a medical facility by other parties.
The report implements a high-level methodology for documentation which relies on survivors and families’ direct accounts in addition to the process of verifying and analyzing pictures, videos, and some medical records. However, the report notes that this documentation doesn’t include all the cases light of the ban and pursuit by Syrian regime forces and some of the other armed groups.
The report notes that Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254, which state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted, have been violated in these attacks. Also, the crime of willful killing constitutes a violation of Article 8 of Rome Statute which amounts to war crimes.
Moreover, Syrian forces violated the rules of the international human rights law committing acts that constitute war crimes. Additionally, Russian forces, Kurdish Self-management forces, armed opposition factions, and other parties carried out acts that amount to war crimes through the crime of extrajudicial killing and targeting of vital civilian centers.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps as it has been more than two years since Resolution 2139 was adopted with no pledges to cease the indiscriminate bombardment operations being made.
The report emphasizes that the Security Council has to instill peace and security in Syria and implement the norm of “Responsibility to Protect” in order to save the Syrian people’s lives, culture, and arts from being destroyed, looted, and ruined. Also, sanctions must be expanded to include the Russian and Iranian regimes who have been directly involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report also recommends the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) norm after all others political routes were drought out through the Arab League and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan. steps under Article 7 of the Rome Statute must be taken and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, must be implemented as the Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria. The report also calls for renewing pressure on the Security Council to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court.
Lastly, the report urges international organizations to send volunteers to work in safe areas where wounded are sent for treatment especially after many death cases were documented where many patients died because of the limited medical resources.