415 Attacks on Vital Civilian Facilities since the Start of 2018
SNHR said today that no less than 21 attacks on vital civilian facilities by the parties to the conflict were documented in May
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 workers, as the report contains two accounts that have been collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and are not cited from any open source, in addition to analyzing a large number of videos and pictures that were posted online or sent by local activists.
The report sheds light on a notable drop in attacked vital civilian facilities in May which 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 agreements, rates of bombardments by Syrian-Russian alliance forces have notably dropped.
The report adds that a significant increase in numbers of bombings in the areas that aren’t under the control of Syrian regime forces was recorded. Some of these bombings resulted in damages to vital civilian facilities, as most of those were in Idlib governorate which also saw the majority of May’s attacks with a percentage of 81%.
The report documents 415 attacks on vital civilian facilities since the start of 2018. In addition, May saw no less 21 attacks on vital civilian facilities which were divided into three by Syrian regime forces, six by Russian forces, and 12 by other parties.
The report breaks down the vital facilities that were attacked in May, which were as follows: seven infrastructures, six places of worship, one vital medical facility, four vital educational facilities, two refugee camps, and one international humanitarian insignia.
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 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 the rest of the parties have 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.