The Syrian Regime Is Incapable of Securing the Most Basic Necessities of Human Life, and Rules by Security Forces’ Intimidation, Plus Violence and Terror
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights reveals in its report released today that it has documented at least 174 attacks on bakeries since March 2011 to date, 149 of them at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance forces, noting that the Syrian regime is incapable of securing the most basic necessities of human life, and rules through intimidation by its security forces, violence and terror.
The 21-page report notes that the bombardment of bakeries and failure to repair them is the main reason for crowds of citizens queueing outside them for hours, adding that among the worst forms of suffering of Syrian citizens is the difficulty in securing bread, which is the dietary staple in the country; the particular problem is in the way in which citizens are forced to queue for long hours in order to obtain limited rations of bread. The report notes that the Syrian regime and its Russian ally have used these images of long bread queues to blame this situation on “the West,” on “fighting the Syrian leadership,” or on “economic sanctions,” ignoring two facts; first, the egregious violations the regime has committed, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, have led to the imposition of sanctions on the regime as a way to force it to end them; if the regime does so, the sanctions will be lifted; second, the main reason behind these long queues is the lack of sufficient bakeries in the country, caused by the targeted bombardment of these facilities by the regime and its Russian ally, which destroyed 149 bakeries. While many of these damaged or destroyed bakeries are located in areas where the regime subsequently regained control, the regime has not restored them or repaired or replaced their equipment damaged or destroyed in the bombardment.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, says:
“The Syrian regime is facing questions after its military battles and is completely incapable of providing basic goods and services, primarily bread, to citizens. The regime, which has been in power for decades, continues to rule through murderous violence; this makes it clear that there will be no political or economic breakthrough without the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2254 and the achievement of a political transition towards democracy which ensures that the perpetrators of violations are held accountable, thus enabling the return of millions of displaced persons and the start of the reconstruction of destroyed vital facilities, especially bakeries.”
The report details the record of attacks on bakeries by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces since the outbreak of the popular uprising in Syria in March 2011 until September 2021, and the civilian casualties that resulted from these incidents, based on the details recorded on the SNHR’s database, collected through the monitoring and documentation processes that have been going on for more than ten years to date.
In this context, the report documents at least 174 attacks on bakeries, 99 of which were at the hands of Syrian regime forces, 50 at the hands of Russian forces, four at the hands of ISIS, one at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, nine at the hands of the US-led coalition forces, and 11 at the hands of other parties. The report also includes charts of the distribution of these incidents by year and across governorates; the data analysis showed that 2019 saw approximately 28% of the total record of attacks on bakeries, the highest number of attacks compared to the previous and subsequent years; Idlib governorate saw the largest number of attacks on bakeries, approximately 46% of the total record, followed by Aleppo governorate with approximately 26%. As the report reveals, most of the attacks against bakeries were committed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces.
As the report further reveals, the attacks on bakeries have resulted in the deaths of 801 civilians, including 109 children and 70 women (adult female), between March 2011 and September 2021, of whom, 685 civilians, including 86 children and 56 women, were killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while the Russian forces killed 47 civilians, including nine children and three women, and ISIS killed one civilian. The report also records the deaths of three civilians at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, 47 civilians, including 10 children and seven women, were killed at the hands of the US-led coalition forces, while 18 civilians, including four children and four women, were killed as a result of incidents committed by other parties.
Finally, the report notes that the Syrian regime not only targeted bakeries in the areas that escaped its control, but it also prevented flour from entering the areas it besieged, within the policy of “Kneel or Starve”.
The report further adds that international humanitarian law clearly prohibits the targeting of civilian facilities and objects, whether these attacks are indiscriminate or deliberate, with indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on bakeries constituting a grave violation that amounts to a war crime; international human rights law establishes the responsibility of the state to secure an adequate standard of living for its citizens, and the Syrian regime has failed to secure this. Rather, the regime is the main cause of the deterioration in the public’s ability to access various essentials for everyday life, especially bread, the staple food in Syria.
As the report notes, the Syrian regime has failed in many of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Economic Rights, particularly in securing basic food for citizens.
The report stresses that the Syrian regime has also targeted bakeries as part of attacks on residential neighborhoods, with some of these attacks being deliberate, and causing the death of a number of citizens standing in front of the bakeries, with deliberate attacks on bakeries constituting war crimes. The report adds that all the parties that carried out the attacks, which the report documented, have violated the rules of international humanitarian law.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to take further action after the adoption of resolutions 2139 and 2254, to impose serious obligations to stop indiscriminate bombardment which must be adhered to by all parties to the conflict, as well as to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law, the need to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court, and to hold all those involved in perpetrating crimes accountable, as well as to stop treating the Syrian government as a legitimate official party representing the Syrian people and state after it has perpetrated crimes against humanity.
The report concludes by recommending that the international community should renew pressure on the Security Council to refer the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court, should work on fulfilling justice and achieving accountability in Syria through the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and to activate the principle of universal jurisdiction, and should stress the illegitimacy of the Syrian regime, which targeted bakeries and prevented the entry of flour to Syrian citizens simply because of their political opposition to the regime, in addition to making several more recommendations.