Including 11 Massacres at the Hands of the Russian and Syrian Regime
SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict for the month of January.
The report notes that since the Ankara Ceasefire Agreement went into effect, there has been a decent and notable drop in the rates of killing throughout Syria in comparison with the previous months from March 2011 until now especially in the areas under the control of armed opposition factions, as the Syrian regime-held areas aren’t subjected to heavy, daily aerial bombardment, which has resulted in the killing of no less than 60% of the victims, and destroyed buildings, displacing the people of Syria. Nonetheless, breaches haven’t stopped, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be affected the most should the ceasefire go on, especially crimes of extrajudicial killing, and, more horrendously, deaths due to torture, which strongly proves that there is some sort of ceasefire on the table. The crimes, however, that the international community wasn’t able to notice, and particularly the Turkish and Russian sponsors, are still ongoing as nothing has changed in that regard.
The report outlines the toll of the massacres perpetrated in January 2017, where the report describes an incident as a massacre if it involved the killing of five peaceful individuals at the same time. Based on this definition, the report documents 21 massacres in January 2017 including six at the hands of Syrian regime forces, five by Russian forces and, three by ISIS. Additionally, four massacres were committed by the international coalition forces, and three by other parties (includes groups that we haven’t been able to identify in addition to Turkish, Lebanon, and Jordanian forces).
According to the report, Syrian regime forces committed three massacres in Deir Ez-Zour, one massacre in Damascus suburbs, one in Homs, and one Hama, while Russian forces committed three massacres in Aleppo and two in Idlib. ISIS committed two massacres in Deir Ez-Zour and one in Al Raqqa, and the international coalition forces committed three massacres in Al Raqqa and one massacre in Idlib. The report also records two massacres -one in Aleppo and one in Latakia- by other parties.
According to SNHR’s victim documentation team, 205 individuals were killed in these massacres including 64 children and 27 women which implies that 45% of the victims were women and children. This considerably high percentage is an indication that civilians were targeted in most of these massacres.
The report breaks down the death toll of the massacres of January where Syrian regime forces killed 48 individuals including 21 children and eight women, while 31 individuals, including 14 children and eight women, were killed in the massacres by Russian forces. Additionally, 18 civilians including nine children and two women were killed in the massacres by ISIS, and 27 civilians including nine children and two women were killed in the massacres committed by the international coalition forces. Lastly, the death toll of the massacres that were committed by other parties amounted to 81 individuals including 11 children and seven women.
The report affirms that the bombing incidents, whether it was deliberate or indiscriminate, targeted armless civilians, thus, Syrian and Russian regime forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Furthermore, these violations were perpetrated during a non-international armed conflict which amount to war crimes as all elements of a war crime have been fulfilled.
Moreover, these attacks, especially bombing, have resulted in collateral damages that involved casualties, injuries, and damages to civil facilities. There are strong indicators that prove that the damage was deeply severe compared to the estimated military benefit. In all of the cases, we couldn’t confirm that there were any military targets before or during these attacks.
Additionally, the magnitude of the massacres, its frequent pattern, the exaggerated use of strength, its military nature, the indiscriminate manner of the bombing, and the coordinated approach of these attacks must be based on high orders, and a state policy.
The report calls for referring the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court and stop the disrupting of the decisions that must be adopted by the Security Council against the Syrian government. This disruption is a wrong message to all dictatorships around the world and supports the culture of crime. Also, immediate sanctions must be imposed on all individuals involved in widespread human rights violations.
Moreover, the report calls for binding the Syrian government to allow all relief and human rights organizations to enter Syria as well as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and journalists and let them work without any obstructions.
The report emphasizes that all militias that are fighting with the Syrian government and have committed widespread massacres such as Iranian militias, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, other Shiite brigades, National Defense Army, and “Shabiha”, must be listed on the international list of terrorist organizations.
Finally, the report calls for the implementation of “Responsibility to Protect” norm which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, in Syria as it is direly needed there.