411 Civilians Killed, including 124 Children and Nearly 200,000 Displaced
SNHR said in a report released today, entitled: “A High Human and Material Cost to Rid a Part of al Boukamal Area of ISIS” that 411 civilians have been killed, including 124 children, and 200,000 individuals have been displaced at the hands of the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance in al Boukamal area, eastern suburbs of Deir Ez-Zour governorate since September 17, 2017.
The report notes that Syrian regime forces started a battle to take over the villages on the Syrian-Iraqi borders towards al Boukamal area in eastern suburbs of Deir Ez-Zour in September 2017. The offensive was in coordination with the Iraqi government under a Russian air cover while Iranian militias, Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and the Lebanese group Hezbollah were openly and heavily involved in the battles. These battles were also an extension of the offensive launched by the Syrian-Russian alliance on Deir Ez-Zour governorate in mid-August 2017 that focused in particular on the suburbs of Deir Ez-Zour on the west bank of Euphrates River.
The report records serious violations of human rights, including killing and deliberate targeting of vital civilian facilities – especially water crossing that civilians use to flee as no less than 200,000 civilians have fled according to the report to a percentage of approximately 66% of all populations. Most of them fled to the villages on the other side of Euphrates River.
The report stresses that the Syrian regime might carry out retaliatory acts against the residents who couldn’t flee under the pretext of being affiliates of ISIS or having assisted the group, similar to what happened in 2012 after the Syrian regime raided areas outside of its control.
The report draws primarily upon the daily, ongoing documentation and monitoring by SNHR. Secondly, on accounts by survivors, eyewitnesses, and local activists, in addition to analyzing a large number of videos and pictures that were posted online or sent to us by local activists via e-mail, Skype, or social medial.
The report outlines the most notable violations by the Syrian-Russian alliance in al Boukamal area between September 17, 2017 and December 15, 2017 as the report documents the killing of 411 civilians, including 168 civilians killed by Syrian regime forces. Out of those victims, 48 were children and 34 women. On the other hand, Russian forces killed 243 civilians, including 76 children and 49 women.
Also, the report documents 23 massacres including eight by Syrian regime forces while the other 15 massacres were at the hands of Russian forces.
In the same period of time, the report records no less than 20 attacks on vital civilians including 14 by Syrian regime forces while six attacks were by Russian forces.
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, they have violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
The report adds that the attacks by the Syrian-Russian alliance has 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 Russian regime to launch investigations regarding the incidents included in this report and, then, make the findings of these investigations public for the Syrian people, and hold the people involved accountable. Also, the damaged facilities and centers should be compensated, reconstructed, and rehabilitated. In addition, victims’ families and the wounded should be compensated.
The report also stresses that the Russian regime should apply pressure on the Syrian regime and its pro-regime militias to protect the civilians in the areas that were recently taken over by the Syrian regime, and ensure that residents are not subjected to acts of oppression that manifest in extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and inhumane treatment.
The report also calls on the Security Council Resolution to take additional steps after Resolution 2254 was adopted. The report also calls for the referral of the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and all those who are responsible should be held accountable. Additionally, to expand sanctions to include the Russian, Syrian, and Iranian regimes who are directly involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report adds that the OHCHR should submit a report to the Human Rights Council and other organs of the United Nations on incidents mentioned in this report and the massacres that preceded them as they are a glaring point in a string of daily massacres of a smaller scale.
Lastly, the report calls for the implementation of the norm of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), especially after all political steps have been consumed through the Arab League’s agreements and then Kofi Annan’s plan and the Cessation of Hostilities and Astana Agreements that followed. Therefore, steps should be taken under Chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations and the “Responsibility to Protect” norm, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented. The Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria.