Including 35 Massacres in June
SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict for the month of June. The report documents 188 massacres in the first half of 2017.
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 had changed.
The report adds that SNHR We didn’t record any drop in the number of massacres by Syrian regime forces across Syria in this month compared to what was recorded in June. The massacres were concentrated in Deir Ez-Zour governorate. On the other hand, international coalition forces continue their ruthless campaign, committing massacres in the eastern governorates for the fourth month in a row, and even more aggressively than the past three months. Half of those massacre were in Raqqa city where Syrian Democratic Forces are waging a war to take the city from ISIS.
The report notes that SNHR incorporates high documentation standards that rely on direct accounts from survivors or victims’ families, in addition to analyzing the pictures and videos and some medical records. Certainly, we can’t claim that we have documented all cases in light of the ban and pursuit by Syrian regime forces and other armed groups.
The type and number of evidence vary from one case to another. In light of the challenges we mentioned above, many of the incidents’ legal description change based on new evidences or clues that surface after we had released the report. We add these evidences and clues to our data archive. On the other hand, many incidents don’t constitute a violation to the international humanitarian law, but it involved collateral damages, so we record and archive these incidents to know what happened historically and to preserve it as a national record. However, we don’t describe it as massacres.
The report outlines the toll of massacres in the first half of 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, there have been 188 massacres in the first half of 2017 – 61 massacres at the hands of Syrian regime forces, 58 massacres at the hands of international coalition forces, 31 massacres at the hands of Russian forces, 15 massacres at the hands of ISIS, four massacres at the hands of Kurdish Self-Management forces, and 19 massacres at the hands of other parties.
According to the report, Syrian regime forces perpetrated 15 massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, 11 massacres in Damascus suburbs, 10 massacres in Idlib, seven massacres in Hama, seven massacres in Daraa, five massacres in Homs, four massacres in Aleppo, one massacre in Damascus, and one massacre in Raqqa. Russian forces perpetrated 22 massacres in Idlib, four massacres in Aleppo, three massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, one massacre in Raqqa, and one massacre in Hama. International coalition forces perpetrated 47 massacres in Raqqa, seven massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, two massacres in Hasaka, one massacre in Idlib, and one massacre in Aleppo. Additionally, the report records that ISIS committed eight massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, six in Raqqa, and one in Hama, while Self-Management forces committed four massacres in Raqqa. Lastly, the report says that other parties perpetrated 11 massacres in Aleppo, three massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, two massacres in Damascus, one massacre in Daraa, one massacre in Idlib, and one massacre in Latakia.
According to the victim documentation team at SNHR, 2025 individuals were killed in those massacres, including 720 children and 366 women (adult female). This means that 54% of the victims were women and children, which is a considerably high percentage and an indication that civilians were targeted in most of these massacres.
The report breaks down the death toll of the massacres that happened in the first half of 2017, where Syrian regime forces killed 602 individuals, including 233 children and 115 women, while Russian forces killed 305 individuals, including 126 children and 70 women. In addition, ISIS killed 157 civilians, including 52 children and 22 women, whereas Self-Management forces killed 33 civilians, including 12 children and seven women. Furthermore, international coalition forces killed 600 civilians, including 214 children and 111 women, and, lastly, other parties killed 328 individuals, including 83 children and 41 women.
The report outlines the massacre toll in June 2017. There have been 35 massacres – 11 massacres at the hands of Syrian regime forces, one massacre at the hands of Russian forces, 17 massacres at the hands of international coalition forces, four massacres at the hands of ISIS, one massacre at the hands of Kurdish Self-Management forces, and one massacre at the hands of other parties.
According to the report, Syrian regime forces perpetrated seven massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, three massacres in Daraa, and one massacre in Hama. Russian forces perpetrated one massacre in Deir Ez-Zour. International coalition forces perpetrated 11 massacres in Raqqa, four massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, and two massacres in al Hasaka. Also, Self-Management forces perpetrated one massacre in Raqqa, while ISIs perpetrated two massacres in both Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zour. Lastly, the report records one massacre in Idlib at the hands of other parties.
According to the victim documentation team at SNHR, 274 individuals were killed in these massacres including 106 children and 14 women (adult female) which suggests that 56% 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 that happened in June, where Syrian regime forces killed 88 individuals, including 41 children and 12 women, while Russian forces killed 22 individuals, including seven children and five women. Additionally, 131 civilians were killed in the massacres perpetrated by international coalition forces, including 49 children and 29 women, while ISIS killed 20 civilians, including six children and two women. And Self-Management forces killed six civilians, including two children and two women. Lastly, seven individuals, including one female child, were killed in the massacre by other parties.
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.