The Syrian-Russian Alliance is still Attacking more Vital Civilian Facilities than any other Party Despite the De-Escalation Agreement
SNHR has published its special periodic report on attacks against vital civilian facilities by the conflict parties in Syria.
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.
In May 2017, we recorded an unprecedented drop in the numbers of targeted vital civilian facilities at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance. While Syrian regime forces’ attack saw a 65% drop in numbers of attacks on vital civilian facilities compared with last April, Russian forces’ attacks have been at their lowest in May since the start of the Russian intervention on September 30, 2015. In contrast, international coalition’s campaign continues in the east region of Syria which has been the deadliest and heaviest in terms of civilians’ deaths since February 2017.
The report documents the incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities in May where no less than 40 attacks against vital civilian facilities were recorded as follows: 14 by Syrian regime forces, two by Russian forces, five by ISIS, one by Self-Management forces, 11 by international coalition forces, and seven by other parties.
The report breaks down the facilities that have been targeted in May as follows: 13 infrastructures, 12 places of worship, six vital educational facilities, four communal facilities, three vital medical facilities, two refugee camps
Furthermore, the report notes that the documented attacks were only the minimum of the actual magnitude of crimes in light of the many practical difficulties during the documentation process.
The report affirms that investigations conducted by SNHR show that there were no military centers before or during these attacks. Syrian regime forces and the other perpetrators of these crimes must justify their actions before the United Nations and the Security Council.
According to the report, the international humanitarian law considers indiscriminate, deliberate, or disproportionate attacks as unlawful attacks. Syrian regime forces’ attacks against schools, hospitals, churches, and bakeries is an utter disregard for the most basic standards of the international humanitarian law and the Security Council Resolution.
The report also notes that Russian forces, Kurdish Self-Management forces, ISIS, international coalition forces, and other parties (Includes groups that we weren’t able to identify and the Turkish, Lebanese, and Jordanian forces) have attacked some of these facilities. The indiscriminate random bombardment is a violation of the international humanitarian law and amounts to a war crime.
The report calls on the Security Council to bind all parties, especially Syrian regime forces considering that it is the main perpetrator of most of these violations, to implement Resolution 2139 and, at least, condemn the targeting of vital civilian centers that are indispensable for the lives of civilians.
Finally, the report calls on the states that support the armed opposition to cease their support for the factions that didn’t respect the international humanitarian law.