No less than 2,286 Civilians Killed, Including 674 Children and 504 Women
SNHR has released its 13th report, entitled “The Bloody Price” on the third anniversary of the start of the international coalition forces’ intervention in Syria.
The report notes that international coalition forces commenced their military campaign against the terrorist group ISIS in Syria on September 23, 2014. On that day, several airstrikes were carried out on points in Raqqa governorate, such as al Tabaqa Military Airbase and al Lewa’ 93 in Ein Eissa town, while international coalition forces targeted also al Nussra Front in Kafr Daryan village, northern suburbs of Idlib governorate, in airstrikes that resulted in the killing of 12 civilians, including five children and five women.
The report adds that international coalition forces continued their airstrikes on ISIS-held areas, as attacks were concentrated in the governorates of Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zour, and Hasaka, in addition to Homs and Hama governorates to a less extent. international coalition forces never showed an open alignment with one of the parties to the conflict in their attacks. That is, until late-2015, where it was clear that international coalition forces were blatantly supporting Self-Management forces (primarily consisting of the Democratic Union Party – a branch for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) under the pretext of fighting ISIS.
The report stresses that international coalition forces’ attacks were visibly concentrated in in eastern regions such as Raqqa, Hasaka suburbs, and Deir Ez-Zour, while areas such as Homs and Hama suburbs never saw such escalated airstrikes even though they were under the control of ISIS, because, apparently, are not considered a target and are void of any presence for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“The presentation that was held by the United States Central Command in last June on the findings of the investigations regarding the attack incident in al Jina village wasn’t convincing in our eyes, or in anyone’s eyes for that matter, I believe. Serious investigations should be launched, and survivors, direct eyewitnesses, and victims’ relatives should be part of it. Confessing to these mistakes and affirming that such mistakes, which the Syrian people believe were deliberate, won’t happen again, as they are still occurring to this day.”
This report contains three accounts that were collected through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, and are not cited from any open sources. In addition, pictures and videos that were published online or sent to SNHR team via e-mail, Skype, or social media were analyzed. Also, some of the videos published by activists show the location of the attacks, the dead bodies, the injured, and the huge destruction in the aftermath of the bombardment.
The report sheds light on the toll of international coalition’s operations between September 23, 2014 and September 23, 2017, as no less than 2,286 civilians were killed, including 674 children and 504 women. Additionally, international coalition forces were responsible for 124 massacres at least, and no less than 157 incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities.
The report highlights that the pattern international coalition forces’ attacks follow has significantly changed since they started in September 2014. Until the end of 2015, international coalition forces’ attacks were directed, concentrated, and caused less civilian casualties, while the attacks we documented in 2016 and 2017 were indiscriminate and unjustified, and have resulted in the killing of hundreds of civilians, and great destruction to vital civilian facilities. The report sorts the attacks into three major phases, the third of which -from November 2016 to September 23, 2017- were the bloodiest, as the glaring disregard for the principles of the customary international law has become clear, and was reflected in the unjustified causalities numbers in that period of time, as international coalition forces had committed, in that period of time, tens of massacres and violations, and dropped accuracy in targeting ISIS military bases and areas.
The report sheds light on 38 incidents in which international coalition forces targeted civilian areas and vital civilian facilities between October 1, 2016, and September 15, 2017. Of those, 21 resulted in civilian deaths.
The report stresses that disproportionate, indiscriminate bombardment operations constitute an explicit violation of the international humanitarian law. Also, indiscriminate crimes of murder constitute war crimes. Additionally, the report notes that these attacks have caused collateral damages that involved loss of lives, injuries, and significant damages to civil facilities. There are strong indicators suggesting that the damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.
The report calls on the international coalition forces to International coalition forces to respect the international humanitarian law and the customary international law. Furthermore, the coalition should address the ramifications of all of these violations, and try as much as possible to avoid such incidents in the future.
The report urges the states of the coalition to unequivocally and truly acknowledge that some of the bombardment operations have resulted in the killing of innocent civilians. Denying so won’t do any good for these government, as documented human rights reports and residents’ account blatantly expose this fact. Instead of denying, these states should take speedy steps to launch serious investigations, and to immediately compensate the victims and those who were affected.
Lastly, the report emphasizes that civilians have to be protected from the savagery of the Syrian regime and its extremist pro-regime militias. In parallel with protecting Syria’s civilians from the brutalities of ISIS, an air ban should be imposed on the warplanes that are dropping barrel bombs on a daily basis.