No less than 537 Attacks on Vital Civilian Facilities since the Start of 2018
SNHR said today that no less than 17 attacks on vital civilian facilities by the parties to the conflict were documented in October.
The report notes that Syrian regime forces, and then Syrian-Russian alliance forces, have trumped all parties in targeting vital civilian facilities – especially in the areas under the control of armed opposition, and to a lesser degree in ISIS-held areas, adding that repeated attacks on thousands of vital facilities have been recorded, which proves that these facilities were deliberately destroyed and damaged, in addition to hundreds of massacres that resulted from attacks on such objects.
According to the report, other parties committed similar violations, but to varying degrees, and never to the extent of the crimes committed by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian forces.
The report includes the attacks that have been monitored, including deliberate bombardments that targeted civilian objects, lootings, and attacks that involve disabling these objects and undermining their purpose in serving civilians despite the lack of any imperative military necessity or these objects being used for combat purposes by a party which would have justified targeting them by the other parties to the conflict.
This report draws upon the ongoing monitoring of news and development by SNHR team, in addition to analyzing a large number of videos and pictures that were posted online or sent by local activists.
According to the report, October saw a significant de-escalation in terms of the scope of military operations by the various parties to the conflict, except for international coalition forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who escalated their attacks in the second half of the month on ISIS-held areas in east Syria. Meanwhile, most of the areas that have broken away from Syrian regime control saw an unprecedented rise in bombings, whose perpetrators we have been unable to identify, for the consecutive seventh month, which resulted in an increase in the number of damaged vital facilities.
The report notes that the most heavily attacked vital civilian facilities in October were places of worship, which were subjected to six attacks, followed by vital educational facilities with five attacks. Meanwhile, Deir Ez-Zour saw the largest number of attacks in October with six attacks.
The report documents 537 attacks on vital civilian facilities since the start of 2018, while the report documents no less than 17 attacks in October that were divided according to the perpetrator party to one attack by Syrian regime forces, one attack by ISIS, four attack by Kurdish Self-Management forces, three attacks by international coalition forces, and eight attacks by other parties.
The report breaks down the vital facilities that were attacked in October, which were as follows: four infrastructures, six places of worship, one communal facility, five vital educational facilities, and one refugee camp
The report highlights only the most notable incidents, adding that the complete incidents’ details are stored in SNHR database. Additionally, the report notes that what has been documented is only the bare minimum in light of the many practical challenges in the course of documentation
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian-Iranian forces have violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 through indiscriminate bombardments, in addition to violating articles 52,53,54,55, and 56 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, as well as rules 7 through 10 of the customary international humanitarian law.
The report adds that the Coalition forces (the international coalition and SDF) have carried out attacks that caused significant damages to civilian facilities. In most cases, these attacks have also resulted in losses that involved casualties. There are strong indicators suggesting that the damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.
In addition, the report notes that the other parties have carried out attacks that targeted civilian objects, which also resulted, in some cases, in loss of lives. These violations might qualify as war crimes. However, these violations don’t qualify as crimes against humanity, as with the Syrian regime and pro-regime forces.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps after resolutions 2139 and 2254 have been adopted. Also, the report stresses that the Syrian case should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved should be held accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven.
In addition, the report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm, especially after all political channels have been consumed through all agreements, as well as Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements. 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 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.
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.
Additionally, the report calls on the Russian regime and international coalition forces to launch investigations in the incidents included in the report, made the findings of these investigations public to the Syrian people, and hold all who were involved accountable.
Further, the report calls on the SDF-supporting states to apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns that are under their control. And cease all forms of support, including weapons.
Lastly, the report calls on armed opposition factions to ensure the protection of civilians in all of their areas of control, and launch investigations on the attacks that resulted in civilian victims. Additionally, armed opposition factions should distinguish between civilians and military targets, and cease any indiscriminate attacks.