The Syrian Regime’s Checkpoints Obstruct the Entry of Food and Medical Supplies to Daraa al Balad Area and the Tareeq al Sadd and Camps Neighborhoods
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria, outlining the most notable human rights violations documented by the SNHR in July 2021 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, in which it notes that the Syrian regime’s checkpoints obstruct the entry of food and medical supplies to Daraa al Balad area and the Tareeq al Sadd and Camps neighborhoods.
The 25-page report outlines the most notable violations SNHR documented in July 2021, including the death toll of civilian victims who were killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces, as well as the record of cases of arrest/ detention and enforced disappearances. The report also highlights attacks on civilian objects, which SNHR was able to document during this period.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of photographs and videos.
The report documents the deaths of 129 civilians, including 44 children and 17 women (adult female), in July 2021, with the highest percentage of killings being carried out at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces. Among the victims were one medical worker, one Civil Defense worker, one media worker, and 10 individuals who died due to torture, in addition to four massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria.
The report documents at least 172 cases of arbitrary arrest/ detention in July 2021 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including one woman, with the largest percentage of these carried out by Syrian regime forces in the governorate of Daraa, then Damascus Suburbs.
The report documents at least 15 attacks on vital civilian facilities in July 2021, five of which were carried out at the hands of Syrian regime forces, four by Russian forces, five by Syrian Democratic Forces, and one as a result of a bombing, with the report being unable to identify its perpetrators.
As the report reveals, July saw the continuation of military operations in northwest Syria for the second consecutive month, with these operations concentrated in the Jabal al Zaweya area and its surroundings, in particular through ground bombardment by the Syrian-Russian alliance forces on the area. During this month, the Syrian Network for Human Rights encountered difficulty in identifying whether the source of bombardment could be attributed specifically to Russian forces or Syrian regime forces, in several incidents, in addition to the use of new munitions that have not yet been identified up to the time of the report’s publication.
The report adds that the Syrian regime continued to besiege the Daraa al Balad area, the Tareeq al Sadd and Camps neighborhoods in Daraa city; on July 4, Syrian regime forces closed the only remaining road leading to the area, obstructed the entry of food and medical supplies to it, and imposed strict restrictions on the movement of residents’ to or from these areas; on July 27, Syrian regime forces stormed al Shayyah area in the southern plains of the Daraa al Balad area in Daraa city and the Gharz area in the eastern part of the city, before escalating their operations after meeting with resistance from fighters in the area, and bombarded several areas in the governorate, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 civilians, including five children and one woman, as well as arresting at least 13 civilians.
As the report reveals, Afrin city in the northern suburbs of Aleppo was bombarded by Syrian Democratic Forces in July, resulting in the deaths of civilians, with the bombardment also causing damage to infrastructure. In terms of bombings, the report notes that Ras al Ein city in the northwestern suburbs of Hasaka and Tal Abyad city in the northwestern suburbs of Raqqa both saw bombings that caused material damage to the infrastructure. The report adds that July saw a continuation of civilian deaths due to landmine explosions in different governorates and regions of Syria. SNHR documented many landmine explosions, which resulted in the death of eight civilians, including five children, bringing the death toll from this cause in 2021 to 117 victims, including 44 children and 21 women.
The report additionally reveals that the intense heatwave witnessed in all regions of Syria caused major fires to break out in forested areas in western areas of Jisr al Shoghour in the western suburbs of Idlib, for the second month in a row, causing material losses to crops. In light of the rising temperatures, the neighborhoods of Hasaka city saw disruptions in the supply of drinking water caused by the suspension of work at the water pumping station in Allouk in Ras al Ein area due to electrical technical faults that lasted from the 29th of June until the 25th of July. In July, the report records several cases of suicide in all regions of Syria, most of them by young men. The phenomenon of foundlings abandoned by their families has also spread in public places, with the SNHR believing that the deteriorating living conditions are the main cause in all these cases.
The report notes that the suffering of camp residents in northern and eastern Syria continued in July, especially in light of the extremely high temperatures. The report also documents numerous fires breaking out in the camps, particularly in Idlib suburbs, with most of these accidents caused by the improper use of cooking fuel and the explosion of solar batteries. Al Hawl Camp also continues to witness deaths at the hands of unknown persons. In July, the report documents the deaths of seven civilians there, including three women.
The report further notes that on July 9, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the humanitarian aid delivery mechanism to Syria through the Bab al Hawa border crossing with Turkey for a period of 6 months, subject to automatic extension for another six months, after an assessment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the delivery of aid.
The report further reveals that the 16th round of Astana talks on Syria began in the Kazakh capital of Nur Sultan on July 7, with the talks lasting two days. The final statement stressed the need to push the political process in Syria forward and called on the United Nations to extend the humanitarian aid delivery mechanism. The report adds that the work of the Syrian-Russian joint meeting to follow up on the work of the international conference on ‘the return of Syrian refugees and IDPs’ began at the Conferences Palace in Damascus July 26, adding that the final statement of the meeting included an assertion by the Syrian and Russian sides that the return of the displaced Syrians is a national priority for the Syrian state and that the necessity of reconstruction and liquidation of terrorist hotbeds and remnants in parallel with the efforts made by the Syrian state to secure what is needed for the returning Syrian displaced.
The report further reveals that evidence gathered by SNHR indicates that attacks have been directed against civilians and civilian objects, with Syrian-Russian alliance forces continuing to commit various crimes of extrajudicial killing, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. In addition, the indiscriminate attacks they have carried out caused the destruction of various facilities and other buildings. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and a number of UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 2139 and 2042 concerning the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report adds that the instances of indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are considered to be in clear violation of international humanitarian law, with such indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to take additional steps following its adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the importance of referring the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court, adding that all those who are responsible should be held accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been repeatedly proven.
The report also calls on the Security Council to adopt a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions and landmines in Syria, similar to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and to include advice on how to safely remove the remnants of such dangerous weapons.
The report additionally requests that all relevant United Nations agencies make greater efforts to provide food, medical and humanitarian assistance in areas where fighting has ceased, and in internally displaced person camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine after all political channels have proved fruitless through all agreements, the Cessation of Hostilities statements, and Astana agreements that followed, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII, and to implement the norm of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
The report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) to launch investigations into the cases included in this report and previous reports, and confirms the SNHR’s willingness to cooperate and provide further evidence and data, with the report calling on the COI to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within their next report.
The report also calls on the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for dooming the de-escalation agreements, to reschedule the peace process so that it can resume its natural course despite Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, through empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report also emphasizes that the Syrian regime must stop its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, and stop using prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, as well as complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report stresses that the states supporting Syrian Democratic Forces should apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns under their control, adding that Syrian Democratic Forces must immediately stop conscripting children, hold the officers involved in such violations accountable, and pledge to return all children who have been arrested for conscription immediately.
The report also calls on the Armed Opposition and the Syrian National Army to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and calls on them to take care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and to cease any indiscriminate attacks.
Lastly, the report stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans to secure decent shelter for internally displaced persons, and to provide protected facilities and vehicles, such as medical facilities, schools, and ambulances, with distinctive signs that can be distinguished from long distances, as well as making several additional recommendations.