79 Civilians Killed, Including Eight Children in a Russian Bombing on al Atareb Town
SNHR has said in a report released today that Russian forces perpetrated a huge massacre in a de-escalation zone, killing 79 civilians including eight children in an air attack that targeted a market in al Atareb town, western suburbs of Aleppo governorate.
The report says that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have deliberately breached the de-escalation agreement, since it went into effect on May 6, 2017, in a number of areas such as Idlib, Eastern Ghouta, and then Aleppo in a manner that clearly suggests that the Syrian-Russian alliance wishes to doom any de-escalation agreement and actively work on submitting the Syrian people into accepting the legitimacy of the Syrian regime.
The report draws upon eight accounts for injured, survivors, paramedics, workers at the central signal, in addition to analyzing pictures and videos that were posted online or sent by local activists via e-mail, Skype, and social media. Some of the videos published by activists show the location of the attacks, dead bodies, injured, and the overwhelming destruction in the aftermath of the bombardment.
According to the report, the targeted areas were civilian areas where no military centers or weapon warehouses for armed opposition factions or extremist Islamic groups were found before or during the attack. Also, Russian forces didn’t alert the civilians prior to the attack as the international humanitarian law requires.
The report says that two fixed-wing warplanes we believe were part of the Russian air force carried out three airstrikes on a market in the center of al Atareb town and near a police station at around 14:08 on Monday, November 13, 2017. The bombardment has resulted in the killing of 79 civilians, including eight children and eight women while no less than 83 individuals were injured. Also, shops were heavily destroyed as well as a police station and a clinic center that is affiliated to Doctors Without Borders.
The report stresses that the Russian regime has, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, The Russian regime has violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
Additionally, the report says that the bombardment has targeted defenseless civilians. Therefore, the Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Additionally, these violations were perpetrated in a non-international armed conflict which amount to a war crime where all elements were fulfilled.
The report adds that the attacks mentioned in this report, which were carried out by Russian warplanes, are considered a violation of the customary international humanitarian law as the shells were fired at a populated area rather than a specific military object.
According to the report, the attacks carried out by Russian forces constitute a breach of the de-escalation agreements as they bombed areas under the control of factions from the armed opposition which strips Geneva path and agreements of any meaning and strengthen al Nussra Front at the expense of these factions.
The report calls on the Security Council take additional steps as Resolution 2139 has been adopted and no pledges to cease the indiscriminate bombardment operations have been made. All the parties to the conflict should respect these steps and adhere to the rules of the international humanitarian law.
Also, the report stresses that the Syrian case should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved should be held accountable while the norm of the Responsibility of Protect should be implemented in order to save the lives, culture, and arts of the Syrian people from being destroyed, looted, and ruined. In addition, sanctions should be expanded to include all the pillars of the Syrian and Iranian regimes who directly involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report calls for supporting the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism that was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, adopted on December 21, 2016. And establish local tribunals that enjoy a universal jurisdiction, and address the war crimes that were perpetrated in Syria.
The report adds that the OHCHR should submit a report to the Human Rights Council and other organs of the United Nations on this massacre in particular, and the massacres that preceded as they are a glaring point in a string of daily, sporadic massacres of a smaller scale.
The report calls for the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm after all political challenges have been drought out through the Arab League agreement and then Kofi Annan’s plan and what the Cessation of Hostilities and Astana Agreements that followed. In light of this, steps under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations should be taken and the R2P norm, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented. The Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria.