SNHR Documented Seven Massacres and 25 Persons Who Died due to Torture
The SNHR announced in its monthly report released today that at least 267 Civilians, including one media worker and five medical and Civil Defense personnel, were documented killed in Syria in August 2019, in addition to 25 persons who died due to torture at the hands of the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria.
The 28-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. The report catalogues the death toll of victims according to the governorate in which they were killed, rather than by the governorate they originally came from.
This report records the death toll of victims documented killed by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria in August 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 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 267 civilians in August, including 72 children and 21 women (adult female). This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with 130 civilians, including 36 children and 12 women, killed at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, while 60 civilians, including 15 children and seven women, were killed at the hands of Russian forces, and two civilians were killed at the hands of ISIS, while one civilian was killed at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham.
The report also documents in August the deaths of two civilians at the hands of factions of the Armed Opposition, and nine civilians, including four children and one woman, were killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces. The report also documents 63 civilians, including 17 children and one woman, killed at the hands of other parties.
The report records that among the victims were two of the medical personnel, all of whom killed in attacks launched by Russian forces, and three members of the Civil Defense personnel, one of whom was killed at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, while the other two were killed as a result of Russian air attacks.
The report also documents in August the deaths of one media worker, who was killed in a detention center of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham.
According to the report, the SNHR’s working team documented at least 25 people died due to torture in August; 18 of these victims died at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, one at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, one at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and five at the hands of other parties, including a woman and her fetus.
The report also documents seven massacres in August, 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 in August three massacres committed by Syrian Regime forces, three massacres committed by Russian 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, while the indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by an alliance of forces comprising International Coalition forces and Syrian Democratic Forces is considered a violation of customary international humanitarian law, inadvertently causing loss of civilian lives or injuries to civilians.
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 unless the SDF stops all its violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
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.