More Escalation and Violated Agreements
SNHR released today a report documenting the three-month’s toll of the ongoing offensive on Eastern Ghouta.
Entitled: “More Escalation and Violated Agreements”, the report notes that the Syrian-Iranian alliance’s air and land attacks on Eastern Ghouta, which has been suffocating under an excessive siege since October 19, 2013, continues as the with no signs of stopping in sight, adding that after 90 days during which the bombardment, killing, and destruction in a besieged areas populated by more than 350,000 civilians, it is laughable to talk about a Russian guarantor, or bilateral agreements, or peace talk, or the international law, or the Security Council.
The report outlines international positions and statements that called for ceasing hostilities in Eastern Ghouta and emphasized the necessity to deliver aids to the besieged residents.
The report draws upon the continued monitoring for news and developments by SNHR team through an extensive network including tens of various sources. The report contains seven accounts that were collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and not cited from any open sources.
According to the report, all mentioned attacks took place in civilian areas where no military centers or armories for factions from the armed opposition or extremist Islamic groups have been found during or even before the attack. Also, Syrian/Russian forces didn’t alert the civilians prior to the attacks as the international humanitarian law requires.
The report documents the toll of most notable violations of human rights by the Syrian-Russian alliance in the armed opposition-held Eastern Ghouta between November 14, 2017 and February 14, 2018. The report says that 729 civilians were killed, including 185 children, 109 women (adult female), seven civil defense members, 10 medical personnel, and one media workers. Of those, Syrian regime forces killed 697 civilians, including 177 children and 96 women, while Russian forces killed 32 civilians, including eight children and 13 women.
The report also records 40 massacres at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces, divided into 37 massacres by Syrian regime forces and three massacres by Russian forces. The report adds that among the victims were eight civilians, including two children and one woman, who died due to food and medication shortages in light of the siege imposed on the region.
According to the report, no less than 108 attacks on vital civilian facilities that were all carried out by Syrian regime forces, including 28 attacks on mosques, and 10 attacks on medical facilities.
In addition, the report notes that Syrian regime forces used cluster munitions in four attacks, poison gases in three attacks, and incendiary ammunitions in one attack during the period of time covered by the report.
The report stresses that Syrian-Iranian alliance forces have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be ceased. Also, these forces have violated Articles 7 and 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes. In addition, the report says that the bombardment has targeted defenseless civilians. Therefore, Syrian forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life, as these violations constitute a war crime considering that they were committed in a non-international armed conflict.
The report stresses that Syrian regime forces breached, through the use of chemical weapons, Security Council resolutions 2118, 2209, and 2235. Also, these forces have breached the CWC which the Syrian government acceded to in September 2013.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps after Resolution 2254 was adopted, which states: “Demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
Moreover, 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, including the Russian and Iranian regime after their involvement in war crimes have been proven.
The report calls for the implementation of the norm “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, after all political channels, through the Arab League agreement and Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan, have been consumed, as well as the Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements that followed. Therefore, steps should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect norm should be implanted.
Also, the report calls on the United Nations special envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for shattering de-escalation agreement and expand Security Council briefings rather than liming them to the violations of al Nussra Front and ISIS.
Lastly, the report calls on the Russian regime to apply pressure on its ally, the Syrian regime, in order to completely cease bombing hospitals, protected civilian objects, and civilian areas. And also apply pressure on the Syrian regime to cease all indiscriminate attacks, and allow unconditional passage for humanitarian aids into Eastern Ghouta.