There Can Be No Normalization of Relations with the Syrian Regime Which Continues to Kill Its Own People
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its monthly report released today that extrajudicial killing claimed the lives of 86 civilians in Syria in November 2021, including 16 children, eight women and six individuals due to torture, noting that there can be no normalization of relations with the Syrian regime which continues to kill its own people.
The 17-page report states that the crime of murder has become widespread and systematic, mainly at the hands of Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias, adding that the entry of several parties into the Syrian conflict has increased the importance and complexity of documenting the victims killed in Syria.
The report notes that since 2011, the SNHR has created complex electronic programs to archive and categorize the victims’ data, enabling the SNHR to catalogue victims according to the gender and location where each was killed, the governorate from which each victim originally came, and the party responsible for the killing, and to make comparisons between these parties, and identify the governorates which lost the largest proportion of residents. The report catalogues the death toll of victims according to the governorate in which they were killed, rather than by the governorate they originally came from.
This report details the death toll of victims documented killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in November 2021, particularly focusing on the victims amongst children and women, and those who died due to torture.
As the report explains, the statistics provided for the death toll of victims include those related to extrajudicial killings by the controlling forces in each area which occurred as a violation of both International Human Rights Law or International Humanitarian Law, and do not include deaths arising from natural causes or those caused by disputes between individual members of society.
The report also includes the distribution of the death toll of victims according to the perpetrator parties, noting that there is great difficulty in determining the party that planted landmines, due to the multiplicity of forces controlling the areas in which these explosions occurred, and therefore the report does not attribute the vast majority of killings due to landmines to a specific party. None of the perpetrator forces in the Syrian conflict have revealed maps of the places where they planted landmines.
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 notes that the Syrian regime and its Russian ally continued to target civilians with extrajudicial killings in November, adding that 21% of the documented death toll in November were killed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces.
Meanwhile, the report adds that 64 civilians (74% of the death toll documented in November) were killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, November also saw continuing civilian deaths as a result of landmine explosions in different governorates and regions of Syria, with SNHR documenting the deaths of 16 civilians, including seven children, bringing the civilian death toll caused by landmines since the beginning of 2021 to 165, including 71 children and 25 women. The report also documents in November the deaths of victims as a result of the explosion of munitions left over from previous bombardment.
As the report reveals, al Hawl Camp, in the eastern suburbs of Hasaka, which is under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces, saw the continuation of killings by unknown gunmen. In November, the report documents the deaths of four civilians at the hands of unknown gunmen that the report was unable to identify, who are believed to be affiliated with ISIS cells.
As the report explains, the SNHR’s Victim Documentation team documented the deaths of 86 civilians, including 16 children and eight women (adult female) in November. This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with 10 of the civilian victims, including two children and one woman, killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, and eight civilians, including three children and two women, killed at the hands of Russian forces. In addition, SNHR also documented the deaths of four civilians killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and 64 civilians, including 11 children and five women, killed at the hands of other parties.
The report further reveals that the SNHR’s working team documented the deaths of six individuals due to torture in November 2021; five of these victims died at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while one died at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces.
The report also documents two massacres in November 2021, one of them at the hands of Russian forces and the other as a result of an explosion of a landmine of unknown source, with the term ‘massacre’ used to refer to any attack that caused the death of at least five peaceful individuals in the same incident.
As the report notes, the evidence collected by SNHR indicates that some of the attacks documented in the report were deliberately directed against civilians and civilian objects. These attacks along with indiscriminate bombardment have resulted in the destruction of facilities and buildings. The report notes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report adds that the use of explosive arms munitions to target densely populated areas reflects a criminal mindset intent on deliberately inflicting the greatest possible number of deaths, which is a clear contravention of international human rights law and a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (articles 27, 31, 32).
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 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 persons’ 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 throughout all the agreements reached, 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 further recommends that the international community should work to launch projects to create maps revealing the locations of landmines and cluster munitions in all Syrian governorates. This would facilitate the process of clearing them and educating the population about their locations.
The report additionally 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, as well as calling them on to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within the next report.
The report also stresses that the Syrian regime must stop the indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, as well as ending its acts of torture that have caused the deaths of thousands of Syrian citizens in detention centers, and complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report stresses that the states supporting the SDF should cease all forms of support until the SDF commits itself to complying with the rules of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Lastly, the report calls on all the parties to the conflict to provide detailed maps of the locations where they have planted landmines, especially civilian sites or areas near residential communities, as well as making several additional recommendations.