Including 5 Massacres at the hands of International Coalition Forces
SNHR said today that no less than 11 massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict in Syria were documented in the month of May.
The report notes that the first two years of the popular uprising saw the largest portion of ethnic and sectarian cleansing massacres, where the Syrian regime and its militias were responsible for the majority of these massacres. In mid-2013, Syrian regime forces started relying heavily on warplanes and they were also used later by international coalition forces and Russian forces. The wide use of aerial bombardment doubled the numbers of victims and caused huge destruction to the infrastructure, as one or two new massacres at least are recorded almost every day.
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 two accounts that have 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.
The report records a notable drop in toll of massacres in Syria for a second month in a raw. May saw a number of agreements that resulted in Syrian regime forces, backed by Russia, completely seizing control of south Damascus, as well as areas in northern suburbs of Homs governorate. The residents of those areas were forcibly displaced to north Syria. In the wake of those agreement, rates of bombardments by Syrian-Russian alliance forces have notably dropped in most areas, which, in turn, reflected on the civilian death toll and massacres against civilians.
Rates of international coalition airstrikes in the eastern region of Syria, the report adds, have raised in May, particularly in southern suburbs of Hasaka governorate, as international coalition forces topped all parties in terms of massacres with five massacres, in which 60 civilians were killed. Of those, 80% were children and women. May also saw a notable increase in numbers of bombings and killings by the way of gunshot in most of the areas that aren’t under the control of Syrian regime forces.
The report documents no less than 171 massacres that have been perpetrated by the parties to the conflict in Syria since the start of 2018. In addition, the report records no less than 11 massacres in May. The report uses the term “massacre” to refer to an incident in which five peaceful individuals are killed in the same attack. Based on this report, Syrian regime forces were responsible for three massacres in May, Russian forces were responsible for one massacre, and international coalition forces were responsible for five massacres. Lastly, two massacres were perpetrated by other parties.
According to the victim documentation team at SNHR, these massacres resulted in the killing of 103 civilians, including 45 children and 28 women (adult female). This means that 71% of all victims were women and children, which is a considerably high percentage, and an indication that civilian residents were targeted in most of these massacres.
The report breaks down the death toll of May’s massacres, as 19 civilians, including nine children and six women by Syrian regime forces, while eight civilians (five children and three men) were killed in the massacre by Russian forces. The death toll of international coalition forces’ massacres amounted to 60 civilians, including 29 children and 19 women, while 16 civilians, including two children, were killed in the massacres perpetrated by other parties.
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 through indiscriminate attacks. Also, The Syrian and Russian regime have violated Article 7 and 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing, as well as the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Given that these violations were committed in a non-international armed conflict, they qualify as war crimes.
The report notes that the attacks by Coalition forces (the international coalition and SDF) have caused collateral damages that involved loss of lives, injuries, or significant damages to civilian facilities. There are strong indicators suggesting that the damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.
The report adds that other parties carried out attacks that resulted in civilian deaths, confirming that these violations might constitute war crimes, but don’t qualify as crimes against humanity as with the Syrian regime and its 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. Also, armed opposition factions should distinguish between civilians and military targets, and cease any indiscriminate attacks.