Seven Medical and Civil Defense Killed and 12 Incidents of Attack on their Operable Vital Facilities in June
SNHR has published its special monthly report that documents the violations against medical and civil defense personnel and their respective facilities by the parties to the conflict in Syria.
The report stresses that Syrian regime forces have been involved, since 2011, in targeting and bombing medical and civil defense facilities as well as the parties to the conflict that targeted medical and civil defense personnel in killing and arrest operations. This indicates a deliberate policy that only aims to kill more and deepen the suffering of the wounded whether they were civilians or armed.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, says:
“The Russian attacks on medical and civil defense centers as well as medical and civil defense personnel are considered a blatant violation of the international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes considering the chaotic, and in many cases, deliberate, targeting of protected objects. All of this have only deepened the suffering of the wounded and injured and is one of the main reasons behind the displacement of the Syrian people as it sends a very clear message: there is no safe area, or a red line, including hospitals, you either flee or perish”
The report highlights the de-escalation agreement in Syria, which commenced on May 6, 2017, after it was announced at the end of the fourth round of Astana talks which was held between representatives from Russia, Turkey, and Iran as the states that sponsored Ankara Ceasefire agreement. The agreement outlined four major de-escalation areas, where a cessation of combat operations will take place in these areas, humanitarian aids will be delivered, and IDPs residents will be allowed a return to these areas. These areas, as specified by the agreement, are: Idlib governorate and the surrounding areas (parts of Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia governorates), northern Homs governorate, Eastern Ghouta, and parts of Daraa and al Quneitra governorates in the southern parts of Syria. It was provided that an expert committee would accurately assign the borders of said zones at a later date.
The report notes that since the agreement went into effect, these areas saw a relatively noticeable and good decrease in killing rates compared with the previous months since March 2011. Nonetheless, breaches didn’t stop, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be most affected should the ceasefire go on, and in particular extrajudicial killing crimes and, more horrendously, deaths due to torture. This strongly asserts that there is a ceasefire of some sort on the table, but the crimes that the international community -especially the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian sponsors- won’t see are still going on as nothing had changed.
SNHR documented in June a noticeable drop in the rates of violations by Syrian regime forces against medical and civil defense personnel and their vital facilities. Also, in this month, we recorded the first case of a medical personnel killed by international coalition forces since the start of their intervention on September 23, 2014.
The report documents the killing of 69 medical personnel, civil defense personnel, and Red Crescent personnel in the first half of 2017 divided into: 33 killed by Syrian regime forces, 16 by Russian forces, four by ISIS, two by armed opposition factions, and two by Kurdish Self-Management forces, one by international coalition forces, and 11 by other parties.
The report also outlines the details of the victims killed in the first half of 2017 – Syrian regime forces killed one doctor, eight nurses, including two women, nine paramedics, two pharmacists, one Red Crescent personnel nine civil defense personnel, and three medical personnel, while Russian forces killed three nurses, one female pharmacist, one Red Crescent personnel, 10 civil defense personnel, and one medical personnel.
Furthermore, ISIS killed one doctor, three civil defense personnel. Armed opposition factions killed one paramedic and one medical personnel, whereas Kurdish Self-Management forces killed one doctor and pharmacist, while international coalition forces killed one female nurse. Lastly, one doctor, one nurse, one paramedic, two Red Crescent personnel, five civil defense personnel, and one medical personnel were killed by other parties.
The report also highlights the toll of attack incidents on vital medical facilities, civil defense facilities, and Red Crescent facilities, where the number of incidents of attack in the first half of 2017 reached 135 including 71 at the hands of Syrian regime forces who targeted 23 medical facilities, 13 ambulances, two Red Crescent, and 33 civil defense facilities. Additionally, the report records 47 incidents of attack at the hands of Russian forces who targeted 24 medical facilities, 10 ambulances, one Red Crescent facility, and 12 civil defense facilities, while armed opposition factions were responsible for two incidents of attack on an ambulance and a Red Crescent facility. International coalition forces targeted three medical facilities, while Self-Management forces were responsible for one incident of attack on a medical facility. The report also records that one medical facility, three ambulances, six Red Crescent facilities, and one civil defense facilities, a total of 11, were attacked by other parties.
The report outlines the toll of June, as seven medical personnel, civil defense personnel, and Red Crescent personnel were killed, including four at the hands of Syrian regime forces. Among those who were killed by Syrian regime forces were one woman. Additionally, Russian forces, international coalition forces, and other parties were each responsible for the killing of one victim.
The report breaks down the details of victims, as Syrian regime forces killed three nurses, including one woman, and one civil defense personnel, while Russian forces killed one nurse. International coalition forces killed one female nurse, whereas other parties killed one Red Crescent volunteer.
The report records 12 incidents of attack on vital medical facilities, Red Crescent facilities, and civil defense facilities, including 10 at the hands of Syrian regime forces who targeted one medical facility, one Red Crescent facility, and eight civil defense facilities, while international coalition forces were responsible for two incidents of attack on vital medical facilities.
The report implements a high-level methodology for documentation which relies on survivors and families’ direct accounts in addition to the process of verifying and analyzing pictures, videos, and some medical records. However, the report notes that this documentation doesn’t include all the cases light of the ban and pursuit by Syrian regime forces and some of the other armed groups. In light of that, the type and number of evidences vary from one case to another. In light of the challenges we mentioned above, many of the incidents’ legal description change based on new evidences or clues that surface after we had released the report. We add these evidences and clues to our data archive. On the other hand, many incidents don’t constitute a violation to the international humanitarian law, but it involved collateral damages, so we record and archive these incidents to know what happened historically and to preserve it as a national record. However, they don’t necessarily qualify as crimes.
The report notes that Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254, which state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted, have been violated in these attacks. Also, the crime of willful killing constitutes a violation of Article 8 of Rome Statute which amounts to war crimes.
Moreover, Syrian forces violated the rules of the international human rights law, committing acts that constitute war crimes. Additionally, Russian forces, armed opposition factions, Self-Management forces, ISIS, international coalition forcrs and other parties have carried out acts that amount to war crimes through the crime of extrajudicial killing or the targeting of vital civilian facilities.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps as it has been more than two years since Resolution 2139 was adopted with no pledges to cease the indiscriminate bombardment operations being made.
The report emphasizes that the Security Council has to instill peace and security in Syria and implement the norm of “Responsibility to Protect” in order to save the Syrian people’s lives, culture, and arts from being destroyed, looted, and ruined. Also, sanctions must be expanded to include the Russian and Iranian regimes who have been directly involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report also recommends the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) norm after all others political routes were drought out through the Arab League and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan. steps under Article 7 of the Rome Statute must be taken and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, must be implemented as the Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria. The report also calls for renewing pressure on the Security Council to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court.
Lastly, the report urges international organizations to send volunteers to work in safe areas where wounded are sent for treatment especially after many death cases were documented where many patients died because of the limited medical resources.