Including 15 Massacres in June
SNHR said today that no less than 186 massacres were perpetrated by the parties to the conflict in Syria in the first half of 2018, including 15 massacres that were documented in June.
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 one account that has been collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and are 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 notes that Syrian-Russian alliance forces launched a vicious offensive in mid-June in south Syria. These forces established their control over numerous areas while the offensive resulted in a number of massacres against civilians, as the report records eight massacres in Daraa governorate.
According to the report, Syrian-Russian alliance forces topped all parties with 10 massacres out of 15 massacres that were recorded in June. In addition, international coalition forces perpetrated massacres in Syria’s eastern region for a second month in a row, as three massacres were recorded, including two in Hasaka governorate.
The report records no less than 186 massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict in Syria in the first half of 2018, while outlining the massacres that were perpetrated in June that saw no less than 15 massacres. The report uses the term “massacre” to refer to an incident in which five peaceful individuals or more are killed in the same attack. Based on this definition, Syrian regime forces were responsible for 122 massacres in the first half of 2018, while Russian forces were responsible for 24. Kurdish Self-Management forces perpetrated three massacres, whereas international coalition forces perpetrated 15 massacres. Lastly, 22 massacres were perpetrated by other parties.
According to the report, these massacres resulted in the killing of 2,257 civilians, including 660 children and 479 women (adult female). This means that 51% 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 these massacres, as Syrian regime forces killed 1,502 civilians, including 385 children and 295 women, while 291 civilians, including 103 children and 68 women were killed in the massacres perpetrated by Russian forces. International coalition forces’ massacres resulted in the death of 199 civilians, including 101 children and 55 women, whereas Kurdish Self-Management forces killed 28 civilians, including one child and 12 women, in their massacres. Lastly, 237 civilians, including 70 children and 49 women, were killed in massacres by other parties.
The report outlines the massacres of June that recorded 15 massacres. Of those, nine were by Syrian regime forces, while Russian forces were responsible for one massacre. International coalition forces perpetrated three massacres, while two massacres were perpetrated by other parties.
According to the report, the massacres documented this month have resulted in the killing of 206 civilians, including 51 children and 34 women (adult female). This means that 41% 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 June’s massacres, as Syrian regime forces killed 100 civilians, including 18 children and 16 women, while Russian forces killed 53 civilians, including 10 children and nine women, in one massacre. International coalition forces killed 33 civilians, including 20 children and six women, in their massacres, while 20 civilians, including three children and three women, were killed 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 the 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.