A Destroyed State and Displaced People
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has released its annual special report for the year 2019 which was entitled: “A Destroyed State and Displaced People”. The report documents the most notable human rights violations by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria during the last year.
The 100-page report contains a record of the major events that took place in Syria in 2019, and sheds light on the most significant political and military developments that occurred on the Syrian scene in 2019. The report, also, includes annual comparisons between the most notable patterns of human rights violations for 2018 and 2019. In addition, the report evaluates the fallout from the conflict with regard to the distribution of areas of control in 2019, which saw a significant expansion of the territories controlled by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance forces at the expense of factions of the Armed Opposition, and saw a decrease of ISIS for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The report notes that the SNHR issued nearly 87 reports throughout 2019 concerning several types of the most significant human rights violations, which contained nearly 242 first-person accounts from those injured in attacks and other survivors, paramedics, “central signal” operators, and victims’ families, all of which were collected through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, rather than being cited from any open sources.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, says:
““The most severe thing that Syrians experienced in 2019 was the continuation of horrific violations for the eighth consecutive year, with additional areas being subjected to bombing, destruction and displacement. This Syrian crisis, which includes the commission of crimes against humanity against the Syrian people, forms a terrible stain on the contemporary history of mankind, particularly since, despite the slaughter continuing for many years and being documented in many reports, the Security Council has taken no action to end it, and no international civilized coalitions have been formed to protect civilians outside the Security Council even after its utter failure to perform its duties.”
According to SNHR’s database, 3,364 civilians, including 842 children and 486 women (adult female), were documented as being killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict in 2019. Of this total, 1,497 civilians, including 371 children and 224 women, were killed by Syrian Regime forces and the Syrian Regime committed, according to the report 43 massacres. While 452 civilians, including 112 children and 71 women, were killed by Russian forces and 22 massacres were committed by Russian forces. 2019 saw also the deaths 94 civilians, including 11 children and seven women, while extremist Islamist groups killed 49 civilians; of this total Hay’at Tahrir al Sham killed 45 civilians, including six children and two women, while the Turkistan Islamic Party killed four civilians.
The report documents that factions of the Armed Opposition, in 2019, killed 21 civilians, including eight children and one woman, all of whom were either killed by executions, indiscriminate shelling, or torture. The report also documents that 164 civilians, including 50 children and 15 women were killed by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as they also committed 6 massacres, while US-led coalition killed 68 civilians, including 20 children and 17 women, and committed 3 massacres.
Lastly, the report records that 1,019 civilians, including 264 children and 149 women, were killed in attacks whose perpetrators could not yet be identified, or in attacks by border guards affiliated with neighboring countries – Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
According to the report, 2019 saw approximately 4,671 cases of arbitrary arrests, including 224 children and 205 women (adult female). The Syrian Regime was responsible for the arrest of nearly 2,797 of these individuals, including 113 children and 125 women, while ISIS was responsible for the arrest of 64 individuals, including two children and one woman. Extremist Islamist groups arrested at least 303 individuals, all at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, including eight children and four women. The total number of detainees arrested by factions of the Armed Opposition was nearly 405 individuals, including 20 children and 19 women, while Syrian Democratic Forces arrested 1,102 individuals, including 81 children and 56 women.
The report states that at least 305 individuals were documented as being killed under torture in 2019, including 275 individuals who died due to torture at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, four died at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, 13 died at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, four in detention centers of factions of the Armed Opposition, while nine others died due to torture at the hands of other parties, which the report couldn’t identify.
The report also outlines the most significant violations against medical personnel by the parties to the conflict, through acts of killing of medical personnel and targeting of medical facilities in 2019, documenting the deaths of 26 medical personnel and 98 incidents of attacks on medical points and facilities. The Syrian-Russian alliance was responsible for the majority of these violations, killing at least 20 medical personnel and carrying out 82 attacks on medical facilities and points.
In addition, the report states that 13 media workers were killed in Syria in 2019, with 62 percent of this total killed by Syrian Regime forces and their Russian ally.
The report also documents one attack in which chemical weapons were deployed in 2019 by the Syrian regime on the suburbs of Latakia governorate. Meanwhile, cluster munitions were deployed in 56 attacks, with 52 of these carried out by Syrian Regime forces, and the remaining four by Russian forces. According to the report, incendiary weapons were used in 22 attacks on Syrian territory last year, all of these attacks carried out by Syrian Regime forces. The report also notes that 2019 saw the Syrian regime using another barbaric indiscriminate weapon, namely small-sized missiles whose heads are filled with hundreds of steel nails, which were used against populated areas; the report documents seven attacks using this weapon carried out by the Syrian regime’s fixed-wing warplanes in 2019. The report adds that at least 4,378 barrel bombs were dropped by the Syrian regime air force in 2019.
As the report details, 2019 was another year of massive waves of forced displacement, with people forced to leave their homes and land as a result of military operations launched by the parties to the conflict, especially the Syrian-Russian alliance forces, which were by far the main parties responsible for the displacements. The report states that nearly one million people were subjected to forced displacement in 2019.
The report stresses that the UN Security Council must take additional steps following the adoption of Resolution 2254, which states unequivocally that all parties should: “… immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such…”. Also, the report states that the Security Council should refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and hold all perpetrators accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven.
The report calls on the Security Council to ensure the security and safety of millions of dispossessed Syrian refugees, especially women and children, who have been displaced to countries worldwide, and to ensure their safety from arrest, torture or enforced disappearance if they choose to return to areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
The report also presents a set of recommendations to the international community, to the OHCHR, and to the relevant United Nations agencies. Moreover, the report calls upon the UN envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of all these crimes and massacres and the main culprits in the collapse of agreements on de-escalation zones by name, and to re-sequence the peace process so that it can resume its natural course after Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report calls on the international community to take steps at the national and regional levels to form alliances to support the Syrian people, to protect them from the daily killing, and to lift the siege, as well as to increase support for relief efforts.