President Trump Abandoning His Commitments in Daraa Governorate the Same Way President Obama Disregarded His Redline on Chemical Weapons
Both the de-escalation agreement, which went into effect in May 2017, and the US-Russia bilateral agreement on a ceasefire in south Syria (parts of the governorates of Daraa, Quneitra, and Suwayda), which went into effect on July 9, 2017, provided for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities and aerial attacks. This had a tangible impact on the day-to-day lives of the residents, as rates of killing and destruction dropped. As a result of the bilateral agreement, the rates of violations by Syrian-Russian alliance forces have also decreased in the south region compared to other areas that were only included in the de-escalation agreement. Surely, however, the past period of time didn’t pass without deliberate attacks by the Syrian regime from time to time in which it targeted civilians and vital civilian facilities.
The report, which was released by SNHR today in the wake of the large displacement waves in southwest Syria, sees that President Trump abandoning his commitments in Daraa governorate is similar to President Obama’s disregarded redline on chemical weapons.
South Syria, the report adds, is under the control of moderate factions from the armed opposition. The region embodied a vital model on how to eject extremist Islamic groups who only had a very limited presence in the most southwest areas (Tasil, Adwan, and Sahm al Golan towns). Nonetheless, we haven’t recorded that those areas have been targeted in any Syrian or Russian offensives in the past few months, as the report notes that all of the pretenses used by the Russian government to justify its attacks on de-escalation zones which revolved around the existent of extremist terrorists and gunmen should not divert attention from the serious violations of human rights by Russia and its failure to commit to international agreements.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“President Trump’s administration has to uphold its pledges in protecting civilians in south Syria from the vicious attacks that are being carried out by Russian and Syrian forces. This sends a distorted message to the Syrian communities there, that reminds them of President Obama’s pledges that he failed to uphold, which further complicated the situation and enabled the chemical weapon criminals to escape justice.”
The report sheds light on the attacks carried out by the Syrian and Russian regimes on Daraa governorate in south Syria between mid-June and June 30. The report draws upon direct accounts from survivors and family relatives, thanks to SNHR’s wide network of relations that has been built over the course of its work in the past seven years, in addition to analyzing pictures and videos. The report contains two accounts that have been collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and are not taken from any open sources.
The report outlines the most notable violations from the commencement of the de-escalation agreement, and then the commencement of the US-Russia bilateral agreement in Daraa governorate, as no less than 416 civilians were killed in Daraa governorate at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance, including 117 children and 79 women (adult female), from May 2017 until June 30, 2018. Of those, 283 civilians, including 87 children and 58 women, were killed after the Russian-American bilateral agreement went into effect on July 9, 2017.
The report also documents the killing of no less than 214 civilians, including 65 children and 43 women, at the hands of Russian-Syrian alliance forces between June 15 and June 30, 2018, in addition to six massacres, 14 attacks on vital civilian facilities by the same forces. The report also records that Russian-Syrian alliance forces used 258 surface-to-surface rockets, 293 artillery shells, and no less than 397 barrel bombs that were dropped by Syrian regime helicopters.
According to the report, the bombings, killings, and destruction that started in mid-June have resulted in the displacement of no less than 198,000 individuals from the villages of al Hrak, Nahta, Bosr al Harir, al Mleiha al Sharqiya, Nawa, al Hara, and Aqraba. IDPs headed for the southern villages and villages on the borders with Jordan, while other headed for the borders with the Golan region. thousands of IDPs found themselves forced to sleep in schools and shelters that were hastily constructed, and with mostly local resources. Those facilities had extremely limited capacities
The report stresses that Russian-Syrian alliance forces have violated the de-escalation agreement and the Russian-American bilateral agreement, in addition to Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both states that indiscriminate attacks muse be ceased. Also, these forces have violated Articles 7 and 8 of Rome Statute through the crime of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
In addition, Russian-Syrian alliance forces have committed the crime of displacement in a systematic, organized, and widespread manner. Those forces had no measures in place to provide shelter, healthcare, or food for the displaced civilians.
The report calls on the donor states and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to secure the basic life needs and care for 198,000 IDPs in south Syria. Those indispensable needs include water, food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare services.
The report stresses that the United Nations General Assembly should hold the ruling Syrian regime fully responsible for displacing one-third of the Syrian people, including legal and materials responsibilities. Also, ensure that victims are fully compensated for the grave losses they had to endure, including returning properties to their rightful owners.
In addition, the report calls on the UN special envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres who were primarily responsible for dooming de-escalation agreements, effectively shattering and ending the entire political process and hold the Syrian-Russian alliance fully responsible for this, and disclose to the Syrian people Russia’s intentions to completely take control of the Syrian lands by force and its explicit desire to rehabilitate the present Syrian regime, which means formulating a political solution that suits its interests.
Further, the report calls on the US administration to uphold its pledges in protecting the south region which was one of the outcomes of the Russian-American agreement, while the report stresses that President Donald Trump should make sure not to follow the steps and pledges of President Obama, and that the south Syria deal doesn’t have the same fate as the insulting deal for surrendering chemical weapons.
Finally, the report calls on the Jordanian government to allow the thousands that were displaced as a result of the offensives and whose houses and shops were destroyed to enter, especially children, women, and critical cases. Also, the Jordanian government should facilitate access for relief groups through the Jordanian borders to aid thousands who are trapped in the open, hold the aggressing Syrian and Russian parties responsible instead of the victim, and try to find a solution by shining a light on this tragedy at the UN General Assembly.