Including 108 in December
SNHR announces that at least 6,964 civilians were killed in 2018 by the parties to the conflict in Syria, including 108 in December.
The report released today notes that, since its foundation, SNHR has largely focused on documenting victims killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict, creating a database of the victims’ names which contains their personal information, including sex, age, and occupation, and other details, such as the way in which they were killed, the party that killed them, and the type of weapon used.
The report also sheds light on the various and different patterns of crimes and means of killing that have been documented as being used since the popular uprising for freedom started in March 2011, ranging from gunfire, air attacks, and death due to torture inside detention centers, to chemical and cluster bomb attacks and landmines, as well as victims who died of hypothermia, starvation, or due to medication shortages, or by drowning as they were fleeing.
The report includes details on the civilian death tolls inflicted by all seven principal parties to the conflict in Syria. The report stresses that military victims weren’t included due to the difficulties found in this type of documentation.
The report draws upon ongoing monitoring of news and developments, and on a wide network of contacts across Syria with dozens of various different sources, in addition to analysis of a large number of pictures and videos.
The report stresses that while many of the incidents that resulted in casualties might not formally constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, they nevertheless involved collateral damage. Therefore, they have been recorded and archived in order to preserve records offering historical accuracy, despite the fact that not all these incidents necessarily qualify as crimes under the terms of international law.
The report reveals that December saw an unprecedented increase in the number of civilian casualties compared to the previous months of the year. The report, also, notes that bombings and assassinations have continued to take civilian lives, especially in regions in northern Syria – particularly the Idlib and Hama governorates – while military operations carried out by the International Coalition forces in Deir Ez-Zour governorate, under the pretext of eliminating ISIS, have also resulted in civilian deaths. The report points out that the Syrian Regime’s artillery forces have continued to violate the Sochi agreement and to kill civilians in the fourth de-escalation zone.
According to the report, in 2018 the Syrian-Russian alliance forces killed 4,629 civilians, and again inflicted by far the highest rate of civilian casualties of all the parties, being responsible for 67 percent of the total annual civilian death toll, including 45 percent of the casualties from Damascus Suburbs governorate, which had the highest rate of civilian casualties amongst all of Syria’s governorates with 31 percent of the total civilian death toll of 2018, followed by Idlib governorate with 24 percent and Aleppo with 11 percent.
The report records that 6,964 civilians were killed in 2018 at the hands of all the parties to the conflict in Syria. Syrian Regime forces were responsible for 4,162 of these civilian deaths, including 713 children and 562 women, while Russian forces killed 467 civilians, including 169 children and 51 women. Furthermore, the report notes that Extremist Islamist groups killed 478 civilians, including 89 children and 42 women; 446 of these civilians including 82 children and 41 women, were killed by ISIS, and the remaining 32 civilians, including seven children and one woman, were killed by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. The report records that 48 civilians, including 14 children and seven women, were killed at the hands of factions of the Armed Opposition, and 285 civilians, including 29 children and 26 women, were killed at the hands of the Kurdish Self-Management forces, while the International Coalition forces killed 417 civilians, including 175 children and 90 women. The report also documented that a further 1,107 civilians, including 247 children and 145 women, were killed at the hands of other parties.
In December, the report adds, 108 civilians were killed. Of those, Syrian Regime forces killed 21, including three children and one woman (adult female). Also, among the victims killed by Syrian Regime forces were 12 who died due to torture.
In the same period, 11 civilians, including three children and one woman, were killed by extremist Islamist groups – divided between nine civilians killed by ISIS, including two children and one woman, and two civilians, including one child, killed by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. Additionally, the report records that one civilian was killed by factions of the armed opposition, and two civilians, including one child, were killed by Self-Management forces.
Lastly, the report records that 25 civilians, including 11 children and seven women, were killed in air attacks by International Coalition forces in December, while 48 civilians, including seven children and four women, were killed by other parties.
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have repeatedly violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Ninety percent of the widespread individual attacks, the report adds, were directed against civilians and civilian artefacts, further discrediting the Syrian government’s and the Russian regime’s claims to be fighting “Al Qaeda and terrorists”.
The report also notes that all other parties have committed crimes of extrajudicial killing which is classified as a war crime.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps now that Resolution 2139 has been adopted. Also, the report stresses that the Syrian issue should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those 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 exhausted with no positive outcome, despite numerous 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, formally adopted on December 21, 2016, and to establish local tribunals that enjoy universal jurisdiction to address the war crimes perpetrated in Syria.
The report also calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations into the incidents included in this report and previous reports. The report stresses that SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidence and data.
The report calls on the Syrian regime to stop treating the Syrian state as though it were a private family property, cease its relentless terrorization of the Syrian people through intimidation and every means of killing (bombing, siege, torture, displacement, etc.), to take full responsibility for meeting the legal and material costs of its actions, and to compensate victims and their families from the Syrian state’s resources.
Additionally, the report calls on the Russian regime to launch investigations in the incidents included in the report, make the findings of these investigation public to the Syrian people, and hold all those who were involved accountable, and to compensate all the families of those victims killed by the current Russian regime, as well as all those wounded and maimed.
Moreover, the report calls on the international coalition forces to unequivocally and sincerely acknowledge that some of their bombardment operations have resulted in the killing of innocent civilians, and demands that the international coalition launch serious investigations, and immediately compensate and issue apologies to the victims and others who were affected.
Furthermore, the report calls on those states supporting the SDF to apply pressure on these forces to compel them to cease all of their violations in the areas and towns under their control, and to cease all forms of support, including weapons.
Lastly, the report calls on armed opposition factions to ensure the protection of civilians in all of the areas under their control, and to take care to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and cease any indiscriminate attacks.