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Investigation Confirms the Syrian Regime’s Responsibility for the Massacre in Qarqour Village, Rural Hama, in Which Six Children Were Killed

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Syrian-Russian Alliance Forces Have Killed No Fewer than 62 Civilians Since October 5 in Northwestern Syria, 60 Percent of Them Children & Women

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Press release: (Download the full report below)

The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released a report entitled, ‘Investigation Confirms the Syrian Regime’s Responsibility for the Massacre in Qarqour Village, Rural Hama, in Which Six Children Were Killed’, in which the group revealed that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have killed no fewer than 62 civilians since October 5 in Northwestern Syria, with 60 percent of the victims being children and women.

This report outlines the findings of an investigation conducted by the SNHR into a massacre in Qaraour village in western rural Hama, in which six children were killed. In doing so, the report sheds light on the details of the attacks, as well as summarizing the civilian death toll and the attacks on vital civilian facilities carried out by Syrian-Russian alliance forces and documented on SNHR’s database since the beginning of the most recent offensive on October 5, 2023, up until October 25, 2023. The report also sheds light on the Syrian regime’s use of cluster and incendiary munitions during this offensive.

The Syrian regime is responsible for the ground attack on Qarqour village in western rural Hama

As the report reveals, on Sunday, October 22, 2023, Syrian regime forces stationed in Jourien town in western Hama carried out a ground attack in which they fired an artillery shell at the northwestern outskirts of Qarqour village. The shell struck a tent set up there by a family next to their house, as an alternative residence following the devastating February 6 earthquakes that hit northwestern Syria, which severely damaged the house. The shell struck the tent when six children, four girls and two boys, were playing around a swing in front of it, killing all of them, with the force of the blast dismembering some of their bodies. The report adds that this regime attack took place in tandem with Russian Orlan-10 reconnaissance aircraft overflying the village. The aircraft took off from the airbase in Jourien town. In the aftermath of the massacre, Syrian regime artillery forces fired additional shells at the area around Qarqour village. As the Civil Defense (White Helmets) and medical teams were unable to reach the site of the massacre, family members of four of the children transferred their bodies by motorbike to the nearby village of Frayka, which is administratively part of Idlib governorate, where they were buried, while the remains of the other two children, from al-Mohsin family, were buried at the massacre site after their scattered body parts were recovered.

Most notable violations committed by Syrian-Russian alliance forces in northwestern Syria between October 5-25, 2023

The report documented the killing of 62 civilians, including 24 children and 13 women (adult female), as well as three humanitarian workers, in the attacks carried out by the Syrian-Russian alliance forces on a number of areas in the governorates of Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama in northwestern Syria between October 5, and October 25, 2023. Of these civilian victims, 53, including 20 children and nine women, were killed by Syrian regime forces, while nine, including four children, were killed at the hands of Russian forces. Furthermore, the report recorded two massacres by Syrian regime forces and one massacre by Russian forces.

The report also documents no fewer than 65 attacks on vital civilian facilities at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces in northwestern Syria between October 5 and October 25, 2023. Eighteen of the attacks documented in the report targeted schools, 10 targeted medical facilities, five targeted Civil Defense (White Helmets) facilities and vehicles, 11 targeted mosques, and seven targeted camps/gatherings of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The report further reveals that Syrian regime forces used cluster munitions in at least one attack targeting Idlib governorate, with one civilian killed and eight others injured in that attack. Meanwhile, the report also documents no fewer than seven attacks by Syrian regime forces using incendiary munitions that targeted civilian areas far from the frontlines, during the same period.

The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have yet again, in these attacks, violated multiple rules of international humanitarian law, most notably in their failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets. These forces have bombed hospitals, schools, and other civilian facilities, violations which constitute war crimes. Moreover, Syrian-Russian alliance forces have again categorically violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 that call for ending indiscriminate attacks, in addition to violating many of the rules of customary international humanitarian law, as well as violating Articles 7 & 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), through the crime of murder, all of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report calls on the UN Security Council to take further action after the adoption of resolution 2254, which explicitly “demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such.” The Security Council should also adopt a resolution to establish a ceasefire in Idlib that must involve punitive procedures in cases of non-compliance for all parties involved.

Additionally, the report calls on the international community to renew pressure on the UN Security Council in order to refer the dossier on Syria to the ICC, and to work towards establishing justice and accountability in Syria through the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, and activate the principle of universal jurisdiction, in addition to making other recommendations.

Download the full report

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