At Least 47 Attacks on Vital Civilian Facilities Documented, Including Six on Medical Facilities
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria, outlining the most notable human rights violations documented by the SNHR in June and the first half of 2022 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, in which it notes that it documented at least 47 attacks on vital civilian facilities, including six on medical facilities.
The 33-page report outlines the most notable violations SNHR documented in June and the first half of 2022, including the death toll of civilian victims who were killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces, as well as the record of cases of arrest/detention and enforced disappearances. The report also highlights attacks on civilian objects, which SNHR was able to document during this period.
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 documents the deaths of 568 civilians, including 115 children and 53 women (adult female), in the first half of 2022, the largest percentage of whom were killed at the hands of other parties; among the victims were five medical personnel and 101 individuals who died due to torture, in addition to documenting at least six massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria.
The report documents at least 1,024 cases of arbitrary arrest/ detention in the first half of 2022 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including 49 children and 29 women (adult female). The largest number of arrests was carried out by Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Damascus Suburbs, Daraa, then Damascus.
The report also documents at least 47 attacks on vital civilian facilities in the first half of 2022, five of which were carried out at the hands of Syrian regime forces, six at the hands of Russian forces, seven at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army, 12 at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and 17 at the hands of other parties. Among these attacks, the report documents six on educational facilities, six on medical facilities, and three others were on places of worship.
The report documents the deaths of 92 civilians, including 19 children and 16 women (adult female), in June 2022, with the highest percentage of killings being carried out at the hands of other parties. Among the victims were six individuals who died due to torture, in addition to one massacre committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria.
The report documents at least 164 cases of arbitrary arrest/detention in June 2022 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including 11 children and six women (adult female), with the largest percentage of these carried out by Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Damascus Suburbs, Damascus, then Suwayda.
The report also documents at least six attacks on vital civilian facilities in June 2022, four of which were carried out at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army, one at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and one at the hands of other parties. Among these attacks, SNHR documented one on a place of worship.
As the report reveals, June saw a continuation of Syrian regime forces’ ground attacks and artillery shelling on northwest Syria. This shelling was concentrated particularly on the villages and towns in the Jabal al Zaweya area close to the line of contact with Armed Opposition factions in the southern suburbs of Idlib. Elsewhere, regime artillery shelling also targeted the Sahl al Ghab area in the western suburbs of Hama and the eastern suburbs of Aleppo. The report reveals that June saw a reduction in the frequency of Russian overflights and air attacks on northwest Syria compared to the previous month. In a related context, the report documents overflights by Russian helicopters over Ein al Arab (Kobani) city in the eastern suburbs of Aleppo, which is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The report documents continuing ground attacks by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the areas of the northwestern and eastern suburbs of Aleppo and the northern suburbs of Raqqa throughout June. The report adds that Syrian National Army forces also used artillery to bomb the Syrian Democratic Forces’ positions in al Shahba area in the northern suburbs of Aleppo, and the areas of the northern suburbs of Manbej and the suburbs of Ein al Arab, close to the contact lines. The report reveals that on June 18, clashes broke out between members of the Syrian National Army’s Third Corps and members of the 32nd Division of the Ahrar al Sham Movement, which is affiliated with the same Third Corps, in the cities and villages of the northern and eastern suburbs of Aleppo. The clashes, which lasted for two days, reached areas near the camps in the vicinity of al Bab city in eastern Aleppo, and resulted in casualties among the displaced people living in those camps, in addition to causing panic and fear among the residents of those camps.
In terms of bombings, in June, the report documents the explosion of improvised explosive devices in the governorates of Hama, Aleppo, and Hasaka, as well as documenting an increase in civilian deaths due to explosions caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance in various governorates and regions of Syria, with these incidents being concentrated especially in the governorates of Aleppo, Hama, and Daraa. The report documents the deaths of 16 civilians, including nine children and four women, resulting from landmine explosions in June, bringing the total death toll caused by these munitions since the beginning of 2022 to 76 civilians, including 39 children and nine women. The report notes that June also saw killing of civilians in various governorates, mostly in Daraa and Deir Ez-Zour governorates, by gunmen whom SNHR has been unable to identify.
The report notes that the living and economic conditions in all regions of Syria continue to deteriorate drastically and constantly at all levels, especially with the onset of soaring summer temperatures, as the electricity crisis worsened in the areas under the control of Syrian regime forces. The crisis of increasing fuel prices, in tandem with woefully inadequate quantities of fuel allocated by the Syrian regime government for public vehicles, has further exacerbated a critical reduction in the amount of available public transportation vehicles operating in most areas under Syrian regime control. In northwestern Syria, civilians continued to suffer from the high prices of consumer goods, food and fuel in light of the almost total lack of purchasing power of those living in the region, due to the spread of unemployment, high poverty rates, and low labor wages. The report adds that on the night of June 3, the cities and towns of Afrin, Marea, Suran, al Bab and Jandeiras in the suburbs of Aleppo governorate witnessed popular protests against the policies of the Syrian-Turkish Energy Company (STE), which supplies the region with electric power, with protesters demanding that the firm reduce the cost of electricity bills and increase the number of hours of electricity currently provided under a rationing system. Protesters in some areas were confronted with gunfire by the Turkish Guard forces, resulting in civilian casualties and the death of a protester, a member of the Ahrar al Sharqiya faction. As for northeastern Syria, the report notes that the people of the region are still suffering from several living and economic crises, in conjunction with increasing unemployment rates and rising prices of some foodstuffs and fuel. Residents of this area also suffer constantly from water outages due to the suspension of water filtration and pumping stations, with this issue exacerbated by the advent of summer.
In regard to asylum, displacement and forced displacement, the massive suffering of IDPs in northwest Syria has continued, especially in light of the deteriorating economic conditions and the increase of the level of needs, which has reaching record levels following the reduction in external support required to cover those needs. In June, the report records the outbreak of fires in a number of IDP camps in the northern suburbs of Idlib, due to the misuse of cooking equipment. Regarding northeastern Syria, the report draws attention to an outbreak of meningitis and leishmaniasis among the residents of random camps in the eastern and northern suburbs of Raqqa, due to complete neglect by the Raqqa Civil Council’s Health Committee, which is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. The report documents the death of two children due to neglect of health care, poor living conditions, and poor medical capabilities in the camps in northeastern Syria.
The report further reveals that evidence gathered by SNHR indicates that attacks have been directed against civilians and civilian objects, with Syrian-Russian alliance forces continuing to commit various crimes of extrajudicial killing, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. In addition, the indiscriminate attacks they have carried out caused the destruction of various facilities and other buildings. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and a number of UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 2139 and 2042 concerning the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report adds that the instances of indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are considered to be in clear violation of international humanitarian law, with such indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
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 calls on the Security Council to adopt a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions and landmines in Syria, similar to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and to include advice on how to safely remove the remnants of such dangerous weapons.
The report additionally 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 person camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine after all political channels have proved fruitless through all agreements, 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 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, with the report calling on the COI to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within their next report.
The report also calls on the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for dooming the de-escalation agreements, to reschedule the peace process so that it can resume its natural course despite Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, through empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report also emphasizes that the Syrian regime must stop its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools, and markets, and stop using prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, as well as complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report stresses that the states supporting Syrian Democratic Forces should apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns under their control, adding that Syrian Democratic Forces must immediately stop conscripting children, hold the officers involved in such violations accountable, and pledge to return all children who have been arrested for conscription immediately.
The report also calls on all Armed Opposition factions and the Syrian National Army to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and calls on them to take care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and to cease any indiscriminate attacks.
Lastly, the report stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans to secure decent shelter for internally displaced persons, and to provide protected facilities and vehicles, such as medical facilities, schools, and ambulances, with distinctive signs that can be distinguished from long distances, as well as making several additional recommendations.