Jordanian Forces Committed a Massacre in Rural Suwayda, in Which Seven Civilians, Including Two Children and Three Women, Were Killed
Press release: (Download the full report below)
The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) revealed in its latest report, released today, that 72 civilians were killed in Syria in January 2024, including 18 children and 10 women as well as five individuals who died due to torture. The group also notes that Jordanian forces committed a massacre in Rural Suwayda, in which seven civilians, including two children and three womens, were killed.
The 22-page report provides a summary of the civilian deaths that occurred in January 2024. The report sheds light particularly on victims who died due to torture, as well as focusing on documenting the massacres perpetrated by the parties to the conflict and controlling forces in Syria which the SNHR team was able to document during this period. The report also outlines the most notable incidents that took place during the month, while also summarizing the action taken by SNHR in regard to the extrajudicial killing issue in Syria.
This report draws upon the constant daily monitoring of news and developments by SNHR’s team, and on information from an extensive network of dozens of various sources, as well as analyzing a large quantity of pictures and videos.
The report emphasizes the Syrian regime’s continuing absolute failure to register the deaths of any of the hundreds of thousands of citizens it has killed since March 2011 in the official death records of the civil registry. It explains 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, including the missing and forcibly disappeared, whether these victims were killed at the hands of the Syrian regime or by other affiliated parties. The 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 further reveals that the vast majority of victims’ families are unable to obtain death certificates from the Syrian regime, for fear of linking their name with 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 regime, or of their loved one being registered as a ‘terrorist’ if they are wanted by the security services; additionally, many victims’ families have been forcibly displaced outside the areas controlled by the regime.
The report further reveals that on August 10, 2022, the regime government’s Minister of Justice 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 into these legal procedures.
The report documents the killing of 72 civilians, including 18 children and 10 women, in December 2024. Of the 72 civilians killed during this month, 15, including two children and one woman, were killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while Russian forces killed five civilians, including three children and one woman. Meanwhile, ISIS killed two civilians, one of them a child, while Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) killed four civilians, including one child and one woman. The report further reveals that Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) killed one civilian in the month of January 2024. Finally, 45 civilians, including 11 children and seven women, were killed by other parties. Additionally, the report documents two massacres that were perpetrated in January 2024 by the parties to the conflict and controlling forces in Syria, in which 12 civilians, including five children and nine women, were killed.
As the report reveals, an analysis of the month’s data shows that Daraa governorate saw the largest number of civilian deaths in January 2024, accounting for approximately 22 percent of the total, followed by Suwayda governorate with approximately 18 percent, with most of the killings in that governorate carried out by other parties, and then by Aleppo governorate which accounted for approximately 15 percent of the total.
Moreover, the report notes that, as 2024 began, more deaths caused by the explosion of landmines planted by unidentified parties were documented, with two boys killed by landmines in January.
On the subject of victims dying due to torture, the report reveals that five individuals died due to torture in Syria, in January 2024. Of these victims, four were killed by Syrian regime forces, while the other one was killed by HTS.
The report notes that 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, also resulted in the destruction of more vital facilities and buildings. The report additionally notes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
As the report also notes, the use of remote bombardment to target densely populated areas reflects a criminal mindset on the regime’s part, showing that it is intent on deliberately inflicting the greatest possible number of deaths, in clear contravention of international human rights law and flagrantly violating 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 dossier 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 urges all relevant United Nations agencies to make far 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 on payment with those states that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report additionally calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine (R2P) after all political channels have proved fruitless throughout all the agreements reached, as well as 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 these lethal munitions 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 to provide further evidence and data in any such investigations, as well as calling on the commission to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions in its 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 reiterates SNHR’s appeal to 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.