Syrian-Russian Alliance Forces Have Killed 1,109 Civilians, including 255 Children, and Endless Violations
SNHR has released a report titled, “Idlib Governorate One Year after the De-Escalation Agreement Commenced” in which it documented the killing of 1,109 civilians, including 255 children, at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces in a year since the de-escalation agreement came into force.
The report outlines the historical context in Idlib governorate since it broke away from the control of Syrian regime forces, which saw a number of agreements and truces, as well as Cessation of Hostilities statements and a de-escalation agreement.
After wide areas in Idlib governorate had broken away from the Syrian regime’s control, the report, the governorate has become a haven for tens of thousands of families who were displaced from their areas after they forced to submit and flee in fear of being arresting or tortured by the Syrian regime forces and their allies, or to escape the Syrian regime forcing their young men to join their force and, consequently, involve them in war crimes and crime against humanity. According to the report, Idlib governorate’s population jumped to roughly 2.5 million people, thereby increasing 1.5 times as it was before. This was, the report says, in light of tens of thousands of IDPs flowing into the governorate, on one hand, whereas the Turkish borders have been shut down, which meant that seeking asylum in European countries is no longer an option.
The report adds that IDPs in Idlib governorate, specifically those living in tents, are suffering from dire humanitarian conditions as the fear of death by Syrian-Russian attacks continues to loom across Idlib governorate, including IDPs camps.
The report notes that the de-escalation agreement hasn’t made any tangible difference in terms of putting an end to the various violations that included bombardment, massacres, and indiscriminate or deliberate attacks by Syrian-Russian alliance forces. The report adds that killing rates resumed sparking roughly four months after the agreement came into force.
The report details six massacres that were perpetrated by Syrian and Russian forces in the year that followed the commencement of the de-escalation agreement in a number of areas in Idlib governorate. The report draws upon the ongoing monitoring for incidents and developments by SNHR, as well as a network of relations including tens of various sources which have been built over the course of our work, in addition to verifying the information provided by survivors, eyewitnesses, and central signal operators against each other.
The report records the toll of the most notable violations perpetrated by Syrian-Russian alliance forces in Idlib governorate in the year following the commencement of the de-escalation agreement, namely from May 2017 to May 2018.
The report says that 1,109 civilians, including 255 children and 209 women (adult female), were killed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces, in addition to committing no less than 32 massacres. According to the report, 233 attacks on vital civilian facilities were documented in the same period of time, including 34 attacks on vital medical facilities, 50 attacks on schools, and 16 attacks on markets.
Additionally, the report documents 19 attacks using cluster munitions and 16 attacks using incendiary ammunitions at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces, as well as one attack using chemical attacks which was carried out by Syrian regime forces with the explicit backing of Russian forces. The report also record that the Syrian regime dropped 752 barrel bombs on Idlib governorate in the period of time covered by the report.
The report stresses that Russian-Syrian alliance forces have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be ceased. Also, they violated Article 7 and Article 8 of Rome Statue through the act of unlawful killing, which constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity
According to the report, Russian-Syrian alliance forces have violated the rules of the customary international humanitarian law and the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. In addition, these attacks were perpetrated during a non-international armed conflict which constitutes a war crime all elements have been fulfilled.
Moreover, the report notes that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated Security Council Resolution 2401, adopted on February 24, 2018, which provided for a 30-day cessation of hostilities.
The report calls on the Security Council to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and hold all those who were implicated accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes have been proven. Also, the report calls on the Security Council to instill peace and security in Syria and implement the ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P)’ norm to save the Syrians’ lives, heritage, and arts from being destroyed, looted, and ruined. Sanctions, the report stresses, should also be expanded to include the Russian, Syrian, and Iranian regimes who have been directly involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ norm after all political initiatives have been to no avail. Therefore, action should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations and the norm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented. The Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria.
The report calls on the Russian regime to immediately compensate the families of the victims killed at the hands of Russian forces and all those whose houses, shops, and possessions were destroyed, and pledge to reconstruct the buildings and facilities that has been destroyed by the Russian machine of war, and shoulder the full economic and moral cost instead of asking European countries to do so.
The report also stresses that the rules of the international humanitarian law should be respected, and wide, impartial investigations should be launched into the atrocious violations perpetrated by Russian forces in Syria.
Further, the report calls for stopping using veto in order to shield the Syrian regime who is involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as using chemical weapons.
In addition, the report stresses that investigations should be launched into the support provided by the Russian forces in Syria for the Syrian regime in its chemical attacks, and that humanitarian aids for tens of thousands of IDPs should be raised, seeing that Russia’s forces, along with Syrian regime forces and Iranian militias, contributed to displacing and degrading them.
Finally, the report calls on international relief organizations to find the necessary means to deliver water, food, and shelter to thousands of displaced in the areas of northern and western suburbs of Idlib.