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Brief Report: Human Rights Implications of the Withdrawal of US Forces from Syria


The United States Must Compensate the Families of Some 3,000 Syrian Civilians Killed by International Coalition Forces Before Leaving


SNHR asserted in its report released today that the United States must compensate the families of some 3,000 Syrian civilians who were killed by International Coalition forces before withdrawing its forces from the country.
The report, entitled ” Human Rights Implications of the Withdrawal of US Forces from Syria”, stresses that the US. forces cannot simply leave after four years of military intervention without first ensuring the satisfactory resolution of cases that are still pending, some of which occurred as a direct result of their military intervention.
The four-page report addresses six major issues which the United States must consider and resolve before its departure from Syria. Firstly, the report states, the US must compensate the families of civilians killed in bombardment by US forces, and fund the reconstruction of homes, other buildings and vital facilities destroyed in these bombings. The total number of civilians documented killed in attacks by International Coalition Forces between September 23, 2014 and January 5, 2019, stands at 2, 984, including 932 children and 646 women (adult female), including at least 168 massacres, in each of which five or more individuals killed in the same attack.
The report also documents at least 182 attacks on vital civilian facilities, including 25 schools and 16 medical facilities, noting that these figures do not include any facilities in which ISIS terrorist elements or equipment were based.
Although ISIS still controls approximately 2,150 square kilometers of territory in Syria, the report acknowledges the role of the International Coalition forces in undermining and depleting ISIS to a large extent. The report adds, however, that the continuing existence of ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria continues to place intolerable pressure on Syrian society, which desperately needs help to get rid of them.
The report further stresses the need to ensure that the fight against terrorism in the world should be united and indivisible, warning that any withdrawal by US forces without first establishing a strong democratic political structure in the areas of East Euphrates will leave vast areas of the region not only at risk of a reinvigorated ISIS, but more dangerously the expansion of Iranian militias who pose a far greater threat since they are explicitly supported by a state, namely Iran, which gives them far greater political power, influence and sustainability than ISIS, which lacks this state backing. It seems therefore, that Iran is set to be the biggest beneficiary of the withdrawal of US forces due to its multilayered infiltration and expansion in large areas of Syria.
The report also notes that US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has not simply been limited to support in the military sphere, but has extended to handing over vast areas to this radical organization after driving out ISIS from these areas. The report notes that the United States has made little effort to support democratically elected local governance, through which locally elected political and economic bodies could ensure security, political and social stability in the region. On the contrary, these areas under YPG rule have not even seen the removal of rubble, or the rehabilitation of the most important vital facilities such as hospitals, schools and markets. Due to this political and economic failure, most of the people of these areas have not returned to their homes and instead remain displaced in tents or in countries of asylum.
The report asserts that the withdrawal of US military forces reflects an attitude of additional negligence and indifference to the Syrian issue, as well as giving free rein to Russian expansionism, through which Russia wants to force the imposition of its solution based on the establishment of a formal constitutional committee, and imaginary reforms.
Lastly, the report stresses that the withdrawal of US forces without securing a proper, safe place for the approximately 50,000 Syrians trapped in al Rukban Camp to go to will place them at lethal risk of arrest, torture and retaliation by Syrian Regime forces and Iranian militias.
The report calls on the United States of America to reassess the decision on the withdrawal of US forces, and to consider in particular its grave implications for the stability, security and rights of Syrian society in the areas currently supervised by these forces. The report further urges the US leadership to begin the process of compensating the victims’ families and reconstructing destroyed facilities, as well as funding their maintenance, adding this should be funded by committee composed of representatives from the countries of the International Coalition, rather than leaving this to certain countries, which means politicizing the process of compensation and reconstruction.
The report also underlines the importance of building a local genuinely democratic political system that enjoys local legitimacy and protection from coalition countries, urging the United States to contribute to leading the process of a genuine political transition in Syria based on the sequence of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, starting from a Transitional Governing Body before forming a constitutional committee and holding internationally sponsored elections; thus contributing to ending the Syrian disaster and the departure of US and all other foreign forces.

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