International Coalition Forces Have Perpetrated more Massacres than any other Party
SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict for the month of May.
The report highlights the de-escalation agreement in Syria, which commenced on May 6, 2017, after it was announced at the end of the fourth round of Astana talks which was held between representatives from Russia, Turkey, and Iran as the states that sponsored Ankara Ceasefire agreement. The agreement outlined four major de-escalation areas, where a cessation of combat operations will take place in these areas, humanitarian aids will be delivered, and IDPs residents will be allowed a return to these areas. These areas, as specified 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. It was provided that an expert committee would accurately assign the borders of said zones at a later date.
The report notes that since the agreement went into effect, these areas saw a relatively noticeable and good decrease in killing rates compared with the previous months since March 2011. 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 has changed.
The report adds that SNHR didn’t record any drop in the number of massacres by Syrian regime forces across Syria in this month compared to what have been recorded since last February. On the other hand, international coalition forces continue their ruthless campaign, committing massacres in the eastern governorates for the third month in a row, and even more aggressively than the past two months.
The report outlines the toll of the massacres perpetrated in May 2017, where the report describes an incident as a massacre if it involved the killing of five peaceful individuals at the same time. Based on this definition, the report documents 34 massacres in May 2017 – nine at the hands of Syrian regime forces, one by Russian forces, 14 by the international coalition forces, five by ISIS, two by the Kurdish Self-Management forces and three by other parties.
According to the report, Syrian regime forces committed three massacres in Aleppo, two in Deir Ez-Zour, two in Hama, and one in both Homs and Damascus suburbs, while Russian forces perpetrated one massacre in Deir Ez-Zour. International coalition forces committed 12 massacres in Raqqa and two in Deir Ez-Zour. In addition, Kurdish Self-Management forces perpetrated two massacres in Raqqa, and ISIS committed four massacres in Deir Ez-Zour and one Hama. Also, the report records thee massacres by other parties – two in Deir Ez-Zour and one in Daraa.
According to SNHR’s victim documentation team, 404 individuals were killed in these massacres including 143 children and 90 women (adult female) which suggests that 58% of the victims were women and children. This considerably high percentage is an indication that civilians were targeted in most of these massacres.
The report breaks down the death toll of the massacres of May where Syrian regime forces killed 85 individuals, including 36 children and 15 women, while five civilians, including two women, were killed in the massacres perpetrated by Russian forces. Also, international coalition forces killed 146 individuals, including 52 children and 36 women, in the massacres they perpetrated, while ISIS killed 99 civilians, including 25 children and 15 women, and Kurdish Self-Management Forces killed 21 civilians, including six children and five women. Lastly, the death toll in the massacre by other parties were 48 individuals including 24 children and seven women.
The report stresses that the bombing incidents, whether it was deliberate or indiscriminate, targeted armless civilians, thus, The Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Furthermore, these violations were perpetrated during a non-international armed conflict which amount to war crimes as all elements of a war crime have been fulfilled. In addition, international coalition forces, ISIS, Self-Management forces and other parties (includes groups that we weren’t able to identify in addition to Turkish, Lebanese, and Jordanian forces) have committed massacres that constitute war crimes according to the report. However, these crimes are not crimes against humanity as with the case of Syrian regime forces and their pro-regime forces that are committing massacres in a widespread and systematic manner.
Moreover, these attacks, especially bombing, have resulted in collateral damages that involved casualties, injuries, and damages to civil facilities. There are strong indicators that prove that the damage was deeply severe compared to the estimated military benefit. In all of the cases, we couldn’t confirm that there were any military targets before or during these attacks.
Additionally, the magnitude of the massacres, its frequent pattern, the exaggerated use of strength, its military nature, the indiscriminate manner of the bombing, and the coordinated approach of these attacks must be based on high orders, and a state policy.
The report calls for referring the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court and stop the disrupting of the decisions that must be adopted by the Security Council against the Syrian government. This disruption is a wrong message to all dictatorships around the world and supports the culture of crime. Also, immediate sanctions must be imposed on all individuals involved in widespread human rights violations.
Moreover, the report calls for binding the Syrian government to allow all relief and human rights organizations to enter Syria as well as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and journalists and let them work without any obstructions.
The report emphasizes that all militias that are fighting with the Syrian government and have committed widespread massacres such as Iranian militias, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, other Shiite brigades, National Defense Army, and “Shabiha”, must be listed on the international list of terrorist organizations.
Finally, the report calls for the implementation of “Responsibility to Protect” norm which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, in Syria as it is direly needed there.