Including 51 Incidents of Attack in June
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.
We recorded in last June a drop in the number of attacks by Syrian regime forces on vital civilian facilities compared to the months prior to the de-escalation agreement. Additionally, this month marked the first month in which we didn’t record any attacks on vital civilian facilities by Russian forces since their intervention started in Syria on September 30, 2015. On the other hand, international coalition forces’ vicious campaign continues in the eastern parts of Syria, growing more ruthless and destructive of vital civilian facilities since February 2017, as international coalition forces came second in the month of June in terms of attacks on vital civilian facilities topped only by Syrian regime forces.
The report documents the incidents of attack of vital civilian facilities in the first half of 2017. 494 incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities at least were recorded, as follows: 238 by Syrian regime forces, 116 by Russian forces, 19 by ISIS, two by Fateh al Sham Front (formerly al Nussra Front), six by Self-Management forces, 75 by international coalition forces, and 30 by other parties.
The report breaks down the vital civilian facilities that were attacked in the first half of 2017 – 175 infrastructures, 95 vital educational facilities, 92 places of worship, 79 vital medical facilities, 32 communal facilities, 10 international humanitarian insignia, eight refugee camps, and three vital cultural facilities.
The report documents the incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities in June where no less than 51 attacks against vital civilian facilities were recorded as follows: 22 by Syrian regime forces, three by ISIS, two by Fateh al Sham Front, two by armed opposition factions, two by Kurdish Self-Management forces, 17 by international coalition forces, and three by other parties.
The report breaks down the facilities that have been targeted in June -18 infrastructures, 18 places of worship, 6 vital educational facilities, 3 vital medical facilities, 2 refugee camps, 1 international humanitarian insignia.
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, Fateh al Sham Front, international coalition forces, armed opposition factions, 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.