The Syrian Regime Informs Dozens of Families of Persons Forcibly Disappeared by the Regime That Their Loved Ones Have Died
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its monthly report released today that 161 civilians were killed in Syria in February 2022, including 28 children, six women, and 66 individuals who died as a result of torture, with the report further noting that the Syrian regime informed dozens of families of persons forcibly disappeared by the regime that their loved ones have died.
The 29-page report details the death toll of victims documented killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in February 2022, particularly focusing on those victims killed under torture, and victims amongst medical personnel, paying particular attention to the massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in this period, detailing the most notable incidents. The report also provides details of the most notable work carried out by SNHR concerning the issue of extrajudicial killing.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on SNHR’s extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to the analysis of a large number of photographs and videos.
As the report documents, February saw a significant increase in the civilian death toll, which reached 161 in total, including 28 children and six women, 77 of whom were killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, accounting for approximately 48% of the death toll documented in February. The report adds that the reason behind the high death toll recorded this month is that the Syrian regime informed 56 families from Deir al Asafeir town in Damascus Suburbs governorate that their relatives who had been arrested by the Syrian regime had died in custody. The families were notified of their deaths through the Civil Registry Department. The report recalls the phenomenon of the Syrian regime informing detainees’ families that their loved ones died in regime custody, noting that the regime’s method of notifying detainees’ families of their loved ones’ death is an additional condemnation of the regime, whose personnel first arrest these individuals, then forcibly disappear them, due to the regime’s denial of their detention and of any knowledge of them before its eventual notification of their loved ones’ deaths. SNHR believes that the cause of the detainees’ deaths was torture exacerbated by lack of healthcare. The report further notes that the SNHR’s records of enforced disappearance cases show that these individuals, all of whom were arrested in 2018, died under torture in Seydnaya Military Prison.
As the report further reveals, Syrian regime forces also continue bombing civilian-populated areas, with Idlib governorate seeing the largest death toll in February with 14 civilians killed there.
Meanwhile, the report adds that 67 civilians (42% of the death toll documented in February) were killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, February 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 five children, bringing the death toll resulting from the explosion of landmines since the beginning of 2022, to 20 civilians, including eight children.
The report documents the deaths of 161 civilians, including 28 children and six women (adult female), killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in February 2022. This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with 77 of the civilian victims, including five children and two women, killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, and three civilians, including one child, killed at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. In addition, SNHR also documented the deaths of three civilians killed at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army forces, while 11 civilians, including one child and one woman, were killed at the hands of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces personnel, and 67 civilians, including 21 children and three women, killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, analysis of the data for this period shows that Damascus Suburbs governorate saw the largest death toll compared to other Syrian governorates, accounting for 42% of the total death toll documented in February, followed by Idlib governorate with 20%, then Aleppo governorate with 16%.
The report reveals that among the victims was one medical worker who was killed as a result of gunfire whose source SNHR has been unable to identify.
The report further reveals that the SNHR team documented the deaths of 66 individuals due to torture in February 2022; 62 of these victims died at the hands of Syrian regime forces, two at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, one at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, and one at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army.
The report also documents three massacres in February 2022; one of these was perpetrated by Syrian regime forces, while the other two were perpetrated by other parties, 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 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 involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes should be held accountable.
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 (R2P) 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 comply 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.
The report further recommends that the Armed Opposition and Syrian National Army must ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and must take great care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and cease any indiscriminate attacks
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.