Including 89 Attacks on Vital Civilian Facilities in Eastern Ghouta by Syrian Regime Forces
SNHR said today that no less than 156 attacks on vital civilian facilities by the parties to the conflict were documented in February.
The report notes that Syrian regime forces, and then Syrian-Russian alliance forces, have trumped all parties in targeting vital civilian facilities – especially in the areas under the control of armed opposition, and to a lesser degree in ISIS-held areas, adding that repeated attacks on thousands of vital facilities have been recorded, which proves that these facilities were deliberately destroyed and corrupted, in addition to hundreds of massacres that resulted from attacks on such objects.
According to the report, other parties committed similar violations, but to varying degrees, and never to the extent of the crimes by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian forces.
The report includes the attacks that have been monitored, including deliberate bombardments that targeted civilian objects, lootings, and attacks that involve disabling these objects and undermining their purpose in serving civilians despite the lack of any pressing military necessity or these objects being used for combat purposes by a party which would have justified targeting them by the other parties to the conflict.
This report draws upon the ongoing monitoring of news and development by SNHR team, and on accounts by survivors, eyewitnesses, and local media activists as the report contains one account that has been collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and not cited from any open sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of videos and pictures that were posted online or sent by local activists.
According to the report, Syrian regime forces topped all parties in February, carrying out 69% of all attacks on vital civilian facilities this month. 84% of Syrian regime forces ‘attacks were in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus suburbs in light of their escalation offensive on the area, where we have documented that attacks by the Syrian regime in Eastern Ghouta have increased to three times as many attacks by the same forces in January. The report adds that Russian forces were responsible for 27% of all attacks, as they were only surpassed by Syrian regime forces. 98% of all Russian attacks were in Idlib governorate.
In addition, the report notes that vital medical facilities conceded the most attacks with 27% of all attacks, while places of worship came second with 22%
The report documents no less than 156 attacks, including 103 attacks by Syrian regime forces and 42 attacks by Russian forces. Additionally, ISIS was responsible for one attack, while Self-Management force and international coalition forces carried out two attacks each. Lastly, other parties were responsible for six attacks.
The report breaks down the vital facilities that were attacked in February, which were as follows: 42 vital medical facilities, 33 places of worship, 29 infrastructures, 27 vital educational facilities, 22 communal facilities, two international humanitarian insignia, and one refugee camp.
The report highlights only the most notable incidents, adding that the complete incidents’ details are stored in SNHR database. Additionally, the report notes that what has been documented is only the bare minimum in light of the many practical challenges in the course of documentation
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian-Iranian forces have violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 through indiscriminate bombardments, in addition to violating articles 52,53,54,55, and 56 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, as well as rules 7 through 10 of the customary international humanitarian law.
The report adds that the attacks by the Coalition forces (the international coalition and SDF) have carried out attacks that caused significant damages to civilian facilities. In most cases, these attacks have also resulted in losses that involved casualties. There are strong indicators suggesting that the damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.
In addition, the report notes that the attacks by other parties have carried out attacks that targeted civilian objects, which also resulted, in some cases, in loss of lives. These violations might qualify as war crimes. However, these violations don’t qualify as crimes against humanity, as with the Syrian regime and pro-regime forces.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps after resolutions 2139 and 2254 have been adopted. 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, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven.
In addition, the report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm, especially after all political channels have been consumed through all agreements, as well as Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements. The report stresses that action should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and the “Responsibility to Protect” norm, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented.
The report calls on the European Union and the United States of America to support 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.
Also, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations on the incidents included in this report and past reports. The report stresses that SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidences and data.
Additionally, the report calls on the Russian regime and international coalition forces to launch investigations in the incidents included in the report, made the findings of these investigations public to the Syrian people, and hold all who were involved accountable.
Further, the report calls on the SDF-supporting states to apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns that are under their control. And cease all forms of support, including weapons.
Lastly, the report calls on armed opposition factions to ensure the protection of civilians in all of their areas of control, and launch investigations on the attacks that resulted in civilian victims. Additionally, armed opposition factions should distinguish between civilians and military targets, and cease any indiscriminate attacks.