SNHR Documented Eight Massacres and 29 Persons Who Died due to Torture
The SNHR announced in its monthly report released today that at least 246 Civilians, including one media worker and six medical and Civil Defense personnel, were documented killed in Syria in February 2019, in addition to 29 persons who died due to torture at the hands of the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria, and 14 persons who died as a result of torture.
The 19-page report states that the crime of murder has become widespread and systematic, mainly at the hands of Syrian regime forces and their affiliated militias, adding that the entry of several parties into the Syrian conflict has increased the importance and complexity of documenting the victims killed in Syria.
The report notes that since 2011, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has created complex electronic programs to archive and categorize the victims’ data, enabling the network to catalogue victims according to the gender and location where each was killed, the governorate from which each victim originally came, and the party responsible for the killing, and to make comparisons between these parties, and identify the governorates which lost the largest proportion of residents.
This report records the death toll of victims documented killed by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria in February 2019, particularly focusing on the victims amongst children and women, those who died due to torture, and victims amongst media and medical personnel, paying particular attention to the massacres committed by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict over the past month.
The report includes the distribution of the death toll of victims killed by each of the main perpetrator parties in the Syrian conflict, noting that in regard to joint attacks, when SNHR is unable to definitively assign responsibility for specific attacks to one specific party, as in the case of air strikes by Syrian or Russian warplanes, Syrian-Iranian attacks, or attacks by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and International Coalition forces, we indicate that responsibility for these attacks is held jointly by the parties in question until we are able to establish with a high degree of probability which one of the parties was responsible, or it’s proved that the attack was a joint initiative carried out in coordination between the two parties.
The report also distributes the victim toll according to their governorates of origin, aiming to show the magnitude of the human loss suffered by the people of each governorate, which will later help in assessing the course of transitional justice.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of photographs and videos.
The report records the deaths of 246 civilians in February, including 54 children and 50 women (adult female). This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with 108 of the civilians, including 31 children and 17 women, killed at the hands of the Syrian Regime forces, while 22 civilians were killed at the hands of Extremist Islamist groups, of whom ISIS killed 21 civilians, including two children and three women, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham killed one child.
The report records that four civilians, including one child were killed at the hands of factions of the Armed Opposition. Meanwhile, 18 civilians, including four children, and four women were killed at the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The report also documents the deaths of 17 civilians, including four children, and four women, as a result of bombing by International Coalition forces warplanes. The report also documents the deaths of 77 civilians, including 11 children and 22 women, at the hands of other parties.
The report states that among the victims were five medical personnel, three of whom were killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while another was killed at the hands of International Coalition forces, and the final one at the hands of other parties. Also, among the victims was one member of the Civil Defense team, who was shot dead by unknown gunmen, whilst another victim was a media worker who died due to torture in a Syrian Regime detention center.
According to the report, at least 29 people died due to torture in February; 26 of these victims died at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, one at the hands of factions of the Armed Opposition, one at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and one at the hands of other parties.
The report also documents eight massacres in February, using the term ‘massacre’ to refer to an attack that caused the death of at least five peaceful individuals in the same incident. According to this definition, the report records two massacres committed by both the Self-Management forces and the International Coalition forces, and one massacre committed by other parties.
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and all UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2139, resolution 2042, and resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report notes that there is no record of any warnings being issued by the Syrian Regime or Russian forces prior to any attack in accordance with the requirements of international humanitarian law. This has been the case since the beginning of the popular uprising for freedom, providing another blatant demonstration of these forces’ total disregard for the lives of civilians in Syria.
According to the report, Extremist Islamist groups have violated international humanitarian law by killing civilians. Also, factions of the Armed Opposition violated UN Security Council Resolution 2139 through attacks that are considered to be in violation of customary international humanitarian law, while the indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by an alliance of forces comprising International Coalition forces and Syrian Democratic Forces is considered a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps following its adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the importance of referring the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court, adding that all those who are responsible should be held accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been repeatedly proven.
The report also requests that all relevant United Nations agencies make greater efforts to provide food, medical and humanitarian assistance in areas where fighting has ceased, and in internally displaced persons camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ after all political channels have proved fruitless through all agreements, the Cessation of Hostilities statements, and Astana agreements that followed, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII, and implement the norm of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
The report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations into the cases included in this report and previous reports, and confirms the SNHR’s willingness to cooperate and provide further evidence and data.
The report also calls on the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for dooming the de-escalation agreements to failure, to re-sequence the peace process so that it can resume its natural course despite Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, and to empower the Constitutional Commission prior to the establishment of a transitional government.
The report emphasizes that the Russian regime must launch investigations into the incidents included in this report, make the findings of these investigations public for the Syrian people, and hold the people involved accountable, as well as demanding that the Russian regime, as a guarantor party in Astana talks, should stop thwarting de-escalation agreements.
The report also stresses that the Syrian regime must stop the indiscriminate shelling and targeting residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, as well as ending the acts of torture that have caused the deaths of thousands of Syrian citizens in detention centers, and complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report also calls on the International Coalition forces to acknowledge that some of their bombing operations have resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, and demands that the coalition launch serious investigations, as well as compensating and apologizing to the victims and all those affected.
The report stresses that the states supporting the SDF should apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns under their control, adding that all forms of support, military and all others, should be ceased.
The report calls on the Armed Opposition factions to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and urges them to investigate incidents that have resulted in civilian casualties, as well as calling on them to take care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and to cease any indiscriminate attacks.
Lastly, the report stresses the need for international organizations to develop urgent operational plans to secure decent shelter for internally displaced persons.