222 Chemical Attacks, 492 Cluster Attacks, and 81,916 Barrel Bombs Documented, the Terrible Cost of Demanding Political Change toward Democracy
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today issued a report marking the nineth anniversary of the start of the popular uprising, which outlines the record of the most notable human rights violations committed by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria since March 2011.
The 14-page report notes that the ruling authorities met the people’s basic demands immediately and viciously, using live munitions, killing and wounding scores of Syrians over the following weeks, and launching mass arrest campaigns that affected dozens of others, inflicting the most heinous acts of torture against those detained, some of whom were subsequently classified as forcibly disappeared persons. As a result, after several months, the level of the people’s demands increased to political change through fair elections free of the influence of the brutal security services that have guaranteed the Assad family’s control of Syria since 1970 to date.
The report attributed the emergence of extremist Islamist groups around the beginning of 2012, as well as the Kurdish Democratic Union Party forces’ emergence in some areas in Hasaka governorate around the same period mainly to the international failure to protect the members of society who demanded freedom, dignity and political reform towards pluralism and democracy.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, the Chairman of the SNHR, says:
“Neither the Syrian society nor the Syrian state can settle in the light of the survival of the Syrian regime, with its victims having reached millions of Syrian people who want to hold it accountable. We will continue to defend the rights of Syrians to demand political change towards a democratic government that respects the Syrian people and defends the human rights and dignity of the Syrian citizens; the countries that support the Syrian regime and try to return it to the Arab League and other international and commercial platforms must feel shame and disgrace in front of the victims of this brutal regime, which is rightly accused of committing crimes against humanity.”
The report outlines the record of the most notable violations carries out by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria from March 2011 until March 2020.
The report notes that 226,247 civilians, including 29,257 children and 16,021 women (adult female), were killed since March 2011, with 91.36 percent of this total killed at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance forces, adding that the disproportionately high percentage of the death toll among children and women, who comprise 18 percent of all victims, is another indicator that the Syrian-Russian alliance forces are deliberately targeting civilians.
The report further notes that at least 129,989 individuals are still detained or forcibly disappeared in the official and unofficial detention centers of the Syrian regime until March 2020.
According to the report, at least 3,087 individuals are still detained or forcibly disappeared in the Syrian Democratic Forces’ prisons from as of March 2020.
The report also notes that ISIS also sought to implement a policy of arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance against civilians in areas under its control, and carried out mass abductions of civilians during attacks on areas free of its control, taking them as hostages. The report documents that ISIS arrested at least 8,648 individuals since its establishment until March 2020, while at least 2,057 individuals are still detained or forcibly disappeared by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham arrested until March 2020.
The report further notes that factions of the Armed Opposition carried out arrests against civilians after storming areas controlled by Syrian Regime forces or in areas under their control, and that, according to the report, 3,044 individuals are still being detained or forcibly disappeared in the prisons of factions of the Armed Opposition until March 2020.
The report explains that Syrian Regime forces have used various types and methods of torture against all detainees, noting that 14,221 individuals have died due to torture in the Syrian regime’s prisons until March 2020.
The report also reveals that ISIS practiced vicious methods of torture against its detainees with the aim of extracting information, taking revenge, or spreading terror and fear and intimidating other detainees and civilians, with the toll of victims who died due torture in ISIS prisons reaching at least 32 individuals, while 25 individuals died due to torture by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham until March 2020, as well as at least 50 individuals who died due to torture by Syrian Democratic Forces until March 2020, while 43 individuals died due to torture at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions until March 2020.
The report further notes that Syrian Regime forces have pursued a policy of imposing siege on areas under the control of factions of the Armed Opposition, preventing the access of food and medicine, resulting in the deaths of 920 civilians, including 405 children and 189 women (adult female) since March 2020, adding that ISIS used the same methods in Deir Ez-Zour city, as well as in al Yarmouk Camp south of Damascus. The report notes that siege in many areas ended as a result of the Syrian regime taking control of the areas after displacing the residents and evacuating them to areas in north Syria, although al Rukban Camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border is still being subjected to starvation siege by the Syrian regime as one of the most important reasons for the suffering of the camp residents. The report also notes that Syrian Democratic Forces imposed a complete siege on the last enclave, which was under the control of ISIS, in Hajin area, resulting in the deaths of 33 civilians, including 13 children.
The report reveals that SNHR has documented nearly 222 chemical weapon attacks in Syria since the first documented use of CWs in the country in December 2012, up to March 2020. 217 of these chemical attacks were carried out by the Syrian regime, resulting in the deaths of 1,510 individuals, while ISIS carried out the remaining five attacks.
The report further reveals that cluster munitions have been used in Syria in at least 492 attacks since March 2020, including 248 attacks at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, 236 attacks at the hands of Russian forces, and eight Syrian / Russian attacks, noting that the Syrian regime air force has dropped approximately 81,916 barrel bombs between the first documented use of this weapon on July 18, 2012 and March 2020.
The report states that 171 incendiary weapon attacks recorded were carried out on civilian residential areas, 125 of which were carried out by Russian forces, 41 by Syrian Regime forces, and five by US-led coalition forces, with all of these attacks inflicted against residential neighborhoods.
The report also notes that in light of the global spread of the novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the situation of the displaced Syrians is considered to be one of the most fragile situations in the world, further noting the potentially devastating impact of the spread of this virus on tens of thousands of detainees who are at risk of infection due to the poor health conditions in the regime’s detention centers.
The report reveals that recent years have seen huge waves of displacement, with millions of citizens forced to leave their homes and land in various Syrian areas as a result of military operations launched by Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance forces or as the result of truces and agreements imposed on besieged cities and towns, whose content blatantly violates international humanitarian law. The report notes that approximately 15.2 million people have been forcibly displaced since March 2011, of whom nine million have been displaced inside Syria, while nearly 6.2 million have been displaced outside Syria.
As the report notes, the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance forces are by far the largest cause of the mass forced displacements of Syrians.
The report stresses that all the parties to the conflict in Syria have violated international humanitarian law articles and relevant Security Council resolutions. Most of the attacks and incidents of violations carried out by the parties to the conflict primarily targeted civilian individuals, as well as a large proportion of these incidents have caused civilian casualties, injuries or damage to civilian objects, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The report recommends that the members of the Security Council stop using their veto to protect the Syrian regime, which has committed hundreds of thousands of violations over the past eight years, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. Furthermore, the report presents a set of recommendations to the international community, the Russian government, and the US-led coalition, as well as calling on the parties to the conflict to comply with the rules of customary humanitarian law and Security Council resolutions, to ensure that civilians are protected and treated as neutral, to release detainees and hostages, to end all torture, to reveal the fate of the disappeared and missing persons, and to lift all sieges.