A Vicious Retaliation against Civilians, as 98 Civilians Killed including 24 Children
SNHR has released a report entitled: “The Syrian-Russian Alliance’s Violation after the American Strike” in which the Network documents the most notable violations of human rights that were perpetrated by the Syrian-Russian alliance in the aftermath of the American strike against al Shayrat Airbase in Homs governorate from Friday, April 7, 2017 until the evening of Tuesday April 11, 2017. The report relies on the archive that has been built through ongoing, daily monitoring and documentation in the period of time covered by the report.
The report notes that on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, Syrian regime forces carried out a chemical attack against the residents of Khan Sheikhoun city. It was the largest chemical attack since the Damascus suburbs attack in August 2013. The U.S. Department of Defense said, in a statement, that at 04:40 on Friday, April 7, 2017, the USS Porter and USS Ross guided-missile destroyers had launched 59 Tomahawk missiles, targeting al Shayrat Airbase in eastern Homs governorate, which contains chemical substances warehouses.
The report says that al Shayrat Airbase is considered one of the most important airbases for the Syrian regime in its military operations, and in bombing civilian neighborhoods and committing massacres. It is also the second most used airbase by Russian warplanes after Hmeimim Airbase in the suburbs of Latakia governorate.
According to the report, the Syrian-Russian alliance has escalated its military operations that target civilian areas and civilian facilities. Some of these operations were deliberate rather than indiscriminate. Over the course of only five days, the Syrian-Russian alliance has killed 98 civilians, and this just what we were able to document. Furthermore, we noticed a rise in the rates of the use of cluster munitions, incendiary weapons, and barrel bombs.
The report adds that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons for a second time in an attack in al Qaboun neighborhood in the capital Damascus after less than 72 hours of using the same weapons in Khan Sheikhoun city in Idlib governorate in a clear challenge to the international community. This incident occurred at approximately 16:00 on Friday, April 7, 2017.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“The American administration has failed to stop the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons, and also failed to protect the red line it drew. This indulged the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons in its open hunt for the Syrian people. We learned from experience that the Syrian regime will continue to challenge the international community, testing its limits the same way the regime gradually elevated its use of weapons until we reached chemical weapons.”
The report documents the killing of 98 civilians including 56 civilians killed by Russian forces. Among the 56 civilians were 10 children and 8 women, while Syrian regime forces killed 42 civilians including 14 children and 7 women. Russian forces have perpetrated two massacres, while Syrian regime forces perpetrated one massacre.
Furthermore, the report records 14 incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities between Russian forces and Syrian regime forces, where each party was responsible for 7 attacks.
According to the report, 5 attacks using cluster munitions were documented including 4 by Russian forces in addition to one attack that is still being investigated in order to determine the perpetrator party (The Syrian regime or the Russian regime).
Additionally, the report documents 6 attacks using incendiary weapons by Russian forces, in addition to 2 attacks using the same weapons that are still being investigated.
Also, the report documents 1 chemical attack by Syrian regime forces, and 162 barrel bombs that were dropped by Syrian regime helicopters.
The report stresses that the Syrian-Russian alliance 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 constitute war crimes.
The report says that the bombardment mentioned in this report has targeted armless civilians. Therefore, the Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which protect the right to life. Also, these violations were perpetrated in a non-international armed conflict, which makes it a war crime, considering that all elements were fulfilled.
The report calls for launching investigations regarding the included incidents, and make the findings of these investigations public to the Syrian people. Also, all those who were involved must be held accountable. And all the facilities and centers that were damaged should be reconstructed and re-prepared, and all the families of the victims and wounded who were killed by the current Russian regime must be compensated properly.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps as it has been more than a year since Security Council Resolution 2254 was adopted, which states that: “Demands 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”
Also, the report emphasizes that the Syrian case must be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved must be held accountable. In addition, the norm of the Responsibility to Protect must be implemented in order to save the Syrians’ lives, culture, and arts from being destroyed, theft, and sabotaged. And the sanctions have to be expanded to include the pillars of the Russian and Iranian regimes who are directly involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.