Including 427 Barrel Bombs Dropped in June
SNHR has released its monthly report on the use of barrel bombs by Syrian regime forces, in which it documented that 2,908 barrel bombs were dropped by the Syrian regime in the first half of 2018, including 427 dropped in June.
The report notes that the Syrian regime has used improvised, low-cost, highly-effective weapons in order to kill as many victims as possible and inflict as much wide destruction as possible. Barrel bombs have been one of the most-used improvised weapons since March 2011. The first documented barrel bomb attack, according to the report, was on July 18, 2012 in Dael city, northern Daraa governorate, where five civilians were killed in that attack, including one female child and three women while about eight others were injured.
The report adds that it took the Security Council about a year and a half to adopt resolution 2139 on February 22, 2014, which condemned the use of barrel bombs, However, the Syrian regime is still raining down the areas outside of its control with tens of barrel bombs.
The report says that Syrian regime forces have used 25,884 barrel bombs since the start of the Russian intervention on September 30, 2015, despite the promises made by Vitaly Churkin, the former Russian representative to the United Nations, in October 2015 where he said that the Syrian regime would stop bombing with barrel bombs.
The report sheds light on the nature of barrel bombs, the methods adopted by the Syrian regime to manufacture them, the types of containers and explosive materials used by the Syrian regime, and the chemical substances, incendiary ammunitions, and metal objects that are added to barrel bombs.
This report draws upon the ongoing monitoring of news and development and on accounts by survivors, eyewitnesses, and local media, in addition to analyzing a large number of videos and pictures that were posted online or sent by local activists.
The report notes that Russian-Syrian alliance forces launched a vicious offensive in Daraa governorate in mid-June that involved the use of barrel bombs, as Daraa recorded the highest number of barrel bombs in June with 413 barrel bombs that were dropped by the Syrian regime. The report adds that the governorate saw its first barrel bomb attack in the last third of June since July 2017. According to the report, the offensive resulted in Syrian regime forces taking over many areas in the governorate.
The report says that the Syrian regime has dropped no less than 2,908 barrel bombs since the start of 2018, where March saw the most barrel bombs in the first half of the year, followed by April.
Barrel bombs dropped in the first half of 2018 resulted in the killing of 169 civilians, including 44 children and 52 women (adult female), while barrel bombs were used in attacks on vital civilian facilities, as the report records 32 attacks on vital civilian facilities that involved the use of barrel bombs – nine on mosques, one on a school, one on an institute, 16 on medical facilities, two on civil defense facilities, two on bakeries, and one on industrial facilities.
According to the report, the Syrian regime used poison gases-loaded barrel bombs in four attacks, the first of which was in Saraqeb city, Idlib governorate on February 4. The second took place in Hamouriya town, Eastern Ghouta, eastern Damascus suburbs on March 5 while the last two attacks were in Douma city, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus suburbs on April 7.
The report documents that 427 barrel bombs were dropped by the Syrian regime in June, which resulted in the killing of 11 civilians, including two children and two women (adult female).
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254, and used barrel bombs in a systematic, widespread manner. Also, the Syrian government, through the crime of willful killing, has violated Article 7 and Article 8 of Rome Statute. In addition, the Syrian government has violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Considering that these violations were committed in a non-international armed conflict, they qualify as a war crime.
The report notes that barrel bomb attacks are an indiscriminate bombing that targeted defenseless civilians and caused significant damages to protected objects. The damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.
According to the report, Through the use of poison gases-loaded barrel bombs, the Syrian regime has violated the rules of the customary international humanitarian law. Secondly, the Syrian regime has violated the CWC treaty. Thirdly, the Syrian regime has violated all relevant Security Council resolutions – particularly 2118, 2209, and 2235. In addition, the use of chemical weapons constitutes a war crime according to ICC’s Rome Statute.
The report notes that Syrian regime forces have used barrel bombs loaded with incendiary ammunitions without a justification, and without taking any measures to reduce the damages to civilians and civilian facilities.
The report calls on the Syrian regime to stop treating the Syrian state as a private family property, cease the terrorization of the Syrian people through dropping barrel bombs, and shoulder all the legal and material repercussions, and compensate victims and their families from the Syrian state’s resources.
The report calls on the Security Council to ensure the serious implementation of its resolutions. Also, the report calls on the four permanent state members to apply pressure on the Russian government to cease its support for the Syrian regime, while the report adds that an arms embargo should be imposed on the Syrian regime. In addition, the report emphasizes that the case in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court, peace and security should be instilled in Syria, and the prosecution of everyone involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes should commence immediately.
The report calls on the European Union and the United States of America to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism that was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, adopted on December 21, 2016. And establish local tribunals that enjoy a universal jurisdiction, and address the war crimes that were perpetrated in Syria.
In addition, the report says that pressure should be applied on the Syria government to ratify Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and pressure the Syrian government to comply with the Protocol’s restrictions.
Also, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations on the incidents included in this report and past reports. The report stresses that SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidences and data.
In addition, the report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm, especially after all political channels have been consumed through the Arab League and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan, and the Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements that followed. The report stresses that action 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.