The Syrian Regime’s Egregious Violations are Pushing Syrians to Illegal Migration, Risking Drowning and Death
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its monthly report released today that 74 civilians were killed in Syria in September 2022, including 21 children, three women, and seven individuals who died as a result of torture, noting that the Syrian regime’s egregious violations continue to push Syrian citizens to illegal migration, risking drowning and death.
The 20 page report details the death toll of victims documented killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in September 2022, particularly focusing on those victims killed under torture, paying especial attention to those massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces which the SNHR team was able to document in this period, providing details of 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 information gathered from the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, through SNHR’s extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to the analysis of a large number of photographs and videos.
The report reveals that the Syrian regime has failed to register the deaths of any of the hundreds of thousands of citizens it killed since March 2011 in the death records of the civil registry, adding that the regime exerts absolute control over the issuance of death certificates, which are not made available to any of the families of its victims, whether these were killed at the hands of the Syrian regime or by other affiliated parties, or to the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared. The Syrian regime only allows death certificates to be issued for those who meet the narrow criteria set by the regime and its security services. The report notes that the vast majority of victims’ families are unable to obtain death certificates from the Syrian regime, for fear of linking their name to that of a person who was detained by the regime and killed under torture, meaning that he or she was a dissident who opposed the Syrian regime, or of their loved one being registered as a ‘terrorist’ if s/he is wanted by the security services; additionally, many victims’ families have been forcibly displaced outside the areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
The report adds that on August 10, 2022, the Minister of Justice in the Syrian regime government issued Circular No. 22 specifying the procedures for the conduct of proceedings related to registering deaths within Sharia courts. The circular included new conditions stipulating that five items of evidence must be submitted to and approved by the relevant judges in proceedings related to registration of deaths. It also requires that all relevant courts involved in death registration cases comply with the circular’s content. The circular also imposed security clearance conditions on judicial authorities to register death cases, increasing the security services’ intrusion.
The report notes that September saw a decrease in the death toll compared to August, with SNHR documenting the death of 74 civilians, including 21 children and three women; the Syrian-Russian alliance forces killed 15 of the victims, including two children. The report documents a massacre due to a Russian airstrike on Hafsarja village in the western suburbs of Idlib, which breached the Turkish-Russian Ceasefire agreement of March 2020. The attack killed seven civilians, including two children, and wounded 11 others. Since the end of 2011 up to October 2022, SNHR has documented the death of approximately 2,398 people as a result of the dangers they were exposed to during their irregular migration, whether from Syria to neighboring countries or from other countries to safer areas. Among these were at least 55 Syrians who died in a boat that set out on the morning of Tuesday, September 20, 2022, from the Minya Port in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, heading towards the Greek island of Cyprus, when it capsized and sank on Thursday, September 22, 2022 near the Syrian island of Arwad. As the report further documents, September saw the continuation of civilian casualties as a result of landmine explosions in different governorates and regions of Syria; the report documents the deaths of 11 civilians, including nine children, as a result of landmine explosions in September, bringing the death toll resulting from the explosion of landmines since the beginning of 2022 to 112 civilians, including 59 children and nine women.
The report also documents in September, the deaths of 11 civilians, including one child and two women, due to gunfire by parties which SNHR has not yet been able to identify.
The report documents the deaths of 74 civilians, including 21 children and three women (adult female), killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in September 2022. This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with eight of the civilian victims killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, seven civilians killed at the hands of the Russian forces, six civilians killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, one civilian killed at the hands of US-led Coalition forces, and 52 civilians, including 18 children and three women, killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, analysis of the data for this period shows that Idlib governorate saw the highest death toll of victims documented killed in September compared to other Syrian governorates, accounting for approximately 22% of the total death toll, followed by Deir Ez-Zour governorate with approximately 19%, then Aleppo with approximately 16%, with most of the victims in all the governorates killed at the hands of other parties.
The report further reveals that the SNHR team documented the deaths of seven individuals due to torture in September 2022, four of these victims died at the hands of Syrian regime forces, two at the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and one at the hands of other parties.
The report also documents one massacre in September perpetrated by Russian forces. According to the SNHR’s Victim Documentation team, this massacre resulted in the deaths of seven civilians, including two children.
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.
As the report further notes, the use of remote bombings 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 Geneva VI Convention, Articles 27, 31, and 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 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.
Lastly, the report calls on all the parties to the conflict to provide detailed maps of the locations where they have planted landmines, especially those present in civilian locations or areas near residential communities, as well as making several additional recommendations.