Double-Tap Airstrike Policy Used to Kill Paramedics and Civilians Indicates Savagery and Barbarism
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reveals in its report released today that Russian forces committed a massacre of IDPs in Ma’aret Misreen town in Idlib region prior to announcing a ceasefire agreement, noting that the double-tap airstrike policy used to kill paramedics and civilians indicates savagery and barbarism.
The 14-page report notes that the strategy of the Syrian regime and its Russian ally in Syria is based on concluding agreements to establish the borders of the areas which they have already taken control of in order to prepare for attacks on new areas, noting that it is delusionary to trust that Russia and the Syrian regime will sincerely commit to respecting any local, regional, or international agreement after the constant stream of violations they have committed, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. The report adds that since April 26, 2019, the Idlib region in northwest Syria has seen a military escalation by Syrian-Russian alliance forces with five cease-fire agreements. The report also notes that the area of land that the Syrian regime seized control of between the first agreement and the last agreement expanded, with hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced, tens of thousands of homes destroyed, and their contents largely looted by Syrian Regime forces and Iranian militias after taking control of them.
This report includes a documentary record of the double-tap airstrike launched by fixed-wing warplanes which are believed to be Russian on a poultry farm sheltering IDPs in Ma’aret Misreen town in the northern suburbs of Idlib, and outlines the record of massacres committed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces since April 26, 2019, until March 27, 2020.
The report reveals that 387 civilians, including 104 children and 62 women (adult female), were killed, and 15 massacres committed, all at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces in Idlib region in northwest Syria between January 12, 2020, and March 27, 2020. Syrian Regime forces killed 174 civilians, including 40 children, 18 women, and committed four massacres, while Russian forces killed 213 civilians, including 64 children, 44 women, and committed 11 massacres.
The report documents a double-tap airstrike by fixed-wing Russian warplanes on Thursday, March 5, 2020, targeting a poultry farm where IDPs from Idlib and Aleppo suburbs were living. The poultry farm is located on the western outskirts of Ma’aret Misreen town. As the report states, the attack resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians, including two children and seven women, and injured around 19 others. The report notes that this massacre was committed in conjunction with consultations between the Turkish and Russian Presidents, which concluded to a ceasefire agreement, in reference to a desire to kill as many people as possible before the beginning of the ceasefire.
The report notes that the Ma’aret Misreen massacre is simply one in a long and violent series of massacres committed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces, with this massacre added to an extensive archive of massacres in which Russian-Syrian alliance forces practiced a double-tap airstrike policy with the aim of killing paramedics and Civil Defense personnel and inflicting the largest possible number of civilian victims, a tactic that once again indicates the Syrian regime’s and its allies’ brutal mindset and underlines the fact that there has been no end to its criminality and Mafiosi behavior.
The report documents that Syrian-Russian alliance forces committed 77 massacres in Idlib region in northwest Syria between April 26, 2019, and March 27, 2020. Syrian Regime forces committed 48 massacres, while Russian forces committed 29 massacres, noting that 15 of which occurred since the ceasefire agreement entered into force at 00:00 of January 12, 2020, until March 27, 2020.
The report further reveals that the 77 massacres resulted in the deaths of 647 civilians, including 224 children and 134 women (adult female). This means that 56 percent of all the victims were women and children, which is a very high proportion of the casualties, and a clear indication that civilian residents were specifically targeted in most of these massacres.
As the report notes, the Syrian regime has committed heinous crimes and violations against Syrian civilians for over nine years to date. It has also consistently failed to respond to any of the demands of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, or to those of the High Commission for Human Rights, or even to Security Council resolutions. The Security Council, which was supposed to take collective measures and action under Article 41 and 42 of the Charter of the United Nations, also failed because of the immunity granted to the Syrian regime by Russia, which has routinely used its veto in the case of the Syrian regime, despite the Syrian regime’s failure to abide by its responsibility for the protection of civilians and committing the most egregious violations against them, reaching the level of crimes against humanity, and extermination within detention centers through torture.
Furthermore, the report states, the type of “conscience-shocking situations” which the UN is required to take action to prevent are exactly what have continued to happen in Syria on a staggering scale, not only in the form of one massacre or one violation but in industrial-scale, continuous killings and torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs, and besieging civilians. In this context, the report cites a report issued in December 2001 by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which stressed that: “The Security Council should take into account in all its deliberations that, if it fails to discharge its responsibility to protect in conscience-shocking situations crying out for action, concerned states may not rule out other means to meet the gravity and urgency of that situation. ”
The report stresses that Syrian and Russian forces have violated several rules of International Humanitarian Law, primarily through their failure to discriminate between civilians and combatants, and between civilian and military targets, bombing hospitals, schools, centers and civilian neighborhoods, with these violations amounting to war crimes.
The report further notes that displacement or forced displacement is a war crime in non-international armed conflicts when committed as part of a deliberate or widespread attack against the civilian population, and may also be considered crimes against humanity.
The report further calls on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to stabilize the ceasefire in Idlib and to include punitive measures for all violators of the cease-fire, to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court and to ensure that all those involved, including the Russian regime, are held accountable, having been implicated in committing war crimes.
The report also presents a set of recommendations to the international community, the UN General Assembly, the OHCHR, and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI), as well as calling on the donor countries and the OCHA to ensure basic living conditions and to pay attention to the needs of and help provide care for thousands of displaced Syrians who are displaced in the north-western Idlib suburbs, with the most pressing basic needs, primarily water, food, housing, clothing and medical care.