International Coalition Forces Have Killed more Civilians than Syrian Regime Forces and Extremist Islamic Groups
SNHR has published its periodic death toll report for the month of May 2017 in which it documented the killing of 964 civilians at the hands of the parties to the conflict in Syria.
The report sheds light on the de-escalation zones agreement that went into effect on May 6, 2017, after it was announced at the end of the fourth round of negotiations that was held between Russian, Turkish, and Iranian representatives, who attended as the sponsoring states of Ankara Ceasefire Agreement. The agreement establishes four de-escalation zones that will see cessation of combat operation, and passage of humanitarian aids, while the IDPs are allowed to go back to these areas. The areas, as outlined by the agreement, are: Idlib governorate and the surrounding areas (parts of Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia governorates), northern Homs governorate, Eastern Ghouta, and parts of Daraa and al Quneitra governorates in the southern parts of Syria, provided that an expert committee will accurately assign the borders of these areas at a later date.
The report notes that these areas saw a relatively noticeable and good decrease in killing rates compared with the previous months since March 2011, where we recorded last month a 69% decline in the rates of killings at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance throughout Syria from last April, which reflected on the living aspects of civilians who live in the areas that were included in the agreement, as patients were able to go to hospitals and medical points, and many children went back to school after their families prevented them out of fear for their lives in light of the repeated bombing that targeted schools, as well as hospitals. Markets became more active, and many infrastructure services were restored thanks to a number of maintenance campaigns. Nonetheless, breaches didn’t stop, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be most affected should the ceasefire go on, and in particular extrajudicial killing crimes and, more horrendously, deaths due to torture. This strongly asserts that there is a ceasefire of some sort on the table, but the crimes that the international community -especially the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian sponsors- won’t see are still going on as nothing had happened.
The report stresses that international coalition forces have again killed more civilian that any other party, where 29% of the total number of civilian victims were killed by international coalition forces whose operation were concentrated in the eastern parts of Syria, in al Raqqa governorate in particular, under the pretext of taking down ISIS.
Furthermore, the report notes that SNHR team encounters difficulties in documenting victims from armed opposition factions as many of those victims are killed on battlefronts and not inside cities. Also, we aren’t able to obtain details such as names, pictures and other important details on account of the armed opposition forces’ unwillingness to reveal such information for security concerns among other reasons. Therefore, the actual number of victims is much greater than what is being recorded.
On the other side, the report stresses that it is almost impossible to access information about victims from Syrian regime forces or from ISIS and the margin of error is considerably higher due to the lack of any applicable methodology in this type of documentation. The Syrian government and ISIS don’t publish, reveal, or record their victims. From our perspective, the statistics published by some groups on this category of victims are fictitious and are not based on any actual data.
Therefore, the report only incudes civilian victims who were killed by all parties and compare them.
The report breaks down the death toll of Mat 2017 where Syrian regime forces killed 241 civilians including 29 children (one child is killed every day) and 21 women (adult female). Additionally, among the victims were 13 civilians who died due to torture.
The report notes that forces we believe are Russian killed 13 civilians including 1 child and 5 women.
Additionally, the report documented the killing of 54 civilians at the hands of the Kurdish Self-management forces including 10 children and 8 women. In addition, among the victims were two civilians who died due to torture.
The report notes that ISIS killed 268 civilians including 61 children and 47 women.
Also, the report says that armed opposition factions killed 43 civilians including 10 children and 2 women.
In addition, the report records that 273 civilians, including 89 children and 58 women, were killed by the international coalition forces in May 2017.
The report documents that 72 civilians, including 24 children and 9 women, in addition to two who died due to torture, have either died drowning as they were fleeing by sea or in bombings that SNHR hasn’t been able to identify its perpetrators, as of this writing, or by bullets or landmines that we couldn’t determine their source, or by Turkish, Jordanian, or Lebanese forces.
The report says that SNHR hopes that the de-escalation zones agreement sees a good commitment, so it becomes a stronger foundation on which a political process would be built that would fulfil justice for the victims, and hold all the perpetrators accountable for their violations; most pressingly the party that was primarily responsible for the dire situation that Syria have come into: the current ruling regime who has perpetrated roughly 90% of all violations against the Syrian people.
The report emphasizes that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated the international human rights law which guarantees the right to life. Furthermore, evidences and proofs, according to hundreds of eyewitnesses’ accounts, suggest that 90% at least of the widespread and single attacks were directed against civilians and civilian facilities.
Also, ISIS, Kurdish Self-Management forces, some armed opposition factions, and international coalition forces, have perpetrated a number of crimes of extrajudicial killing which constitutes war crimes.
The report calls on the Security Council and the relevant international entities to uphold their responsibilities in relation to the crimes of killing that is being perpetrated ceaselessly and to apply pressure on the Syrian government to stop the deliberate and indiscriminate shelling against civilians.
Finally, the report considers the Russian regime, all Shiite militias, and ISIS as foreign parties that are effectively involved in the killings and holds all of these parties and the financiers and supports of the Syrian regime legally and judicially responsible.