No less than 121 Attacks in One Year, and 175 Attacks Since the Beginning of the Russian Intervention
SNHR has released its second report on the use of cluster munitions by Russian forces in Syria since the beginning of the Russian intervention on September 30, 2015. The (39) page report says that Russian forces carried out hundreds of unlawful attacks, committing crimes that constitute war crimes, in which various kinds of crimes were used including cluster munitions which were one of the most dangerous weapons used.
The report notes that the Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions took place between 5-7 September, 2016 in Geneva. The use of cluster munitions in Syria was condemned at the Meeting. During the same period of time alone, we recorded three Russian attacks using cluster munitions. Also, we received reports about six cluster attacks by Russian/Syrian forces, which are still, according to the report, being investigated.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“What hurts us is the utter helplessness of the United Nations to deter the Syrian regime from using cluster munitions, although most of the world states have, and frequently, condemned it through the General Assembly. If this couldn’t be achieved, how can the United Nations deter a superpower like Russia?”
The report draws upon testimonies from eyewitnesses who saw Russian warplanes and information from armed opposition observatories that can, to a good extent, identify the warplanes that take off from Hmeimim airbase, which is considered a Russian military facility. The report includes 11 testimonies. Also, we reviewed the pictures and videos. These pictures showed small submunitoins that didn’t explode, and remnants of cluster bombs.
The report documents no less than 121 cluster attacks from February 27, 2016 until February 27, 2017. Adding those attacks to what we documented in our previous report “Russian Forces are Pouring Cluster Munition over Syria”, and we have 175 attacks using cluster munitions since the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria on September 30, 2015.
According to the report, these attacks resulted in the killing of 93 civilians including 24 children and 13 women (Adult female), and injured no less than 417 individuals.
The report records that Aleppo governorate saw the most of these attacks with 89 attacks, followed by Idlib governorate with 68 attacks, Hama governorate with nine attacks, Hama and Daraa governorate with three attacks each. Also, three attacks were recorded in ISIS-held areas; two in Deir Ez-Zour and one in al Raqqa.
The report also records six Russian/Syrian cluster attacks which all were in Damascus suburbs governorate. These attacks are still being investigated in order to accurately identify the perpetrator.
The report describes the use of cluster munitions by Russian forces as a violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality that are established in the international humanitarian law. The incidents included in this report constitute war crimes especially that evidences suggest that cluster munitions were used against civilian targets rather than to accomplish specific military objects.
The report calls on the Russian government to immediately cease the use and manufacture of cluster munitions in Syria and start destroying its arsenal of cluster munitions, and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and Investigate all the violations included in this report.
Furthermore, the report emphasizes that Russian forces have to publish detailed maps that illustrate the sites where cluster attacks occurred and make these maps available for the United Nations and the Syrian people, which will facilitate the process of the disposal of the remnants that didn’t explode yet. In addition, they have to insure reparations to the Syrian society for all the material and moral damages and particularly to the victims and their families.
Moreover, the report calls on the Security Council to adopt a resolution particularly on the prohibition of cluster munitions in Syria akin to what happened with the chemical weapons. Also, Russia has to be held accountable for its violations even though it is a permanent member of the Security Council.
The report stresses that Friends of Syria have to condemn the use of cluster munitions by Russian forces, and apply pressure on Russia in order to put an end to its frequent and continuing violations, which implies that this is a policy adopted by the Russian state.
Lastly, The Human Rights and the Commission of Inquiry have to issue a statement condemning the use of cluster munitions by the Russian government. Also, they must work on extensive studies addressing the sites where Russian forces used cluster munitions, in order to warn the residents of these areas and accelerate the process of the disposal of cluster remnants.