HomeReportMonthly ReportsMost Notable Human Rights Violations in Syria in January 2024

Most Notable Human Rights Violations in Syria in January 2024


No Fewer than 37 Attacks on Vital Civilian Facilities Were Carried Out in January 2024, With The Syrian Regime Bombing Civilian Areas Using Incendiary Weapons

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Press Release: (Download the full report below)

The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria, as well as documenting the most prominent human rights violations committed by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces in Syria in the previous month, January 2024. Amongst other subjects, the report notes that no fewer than 37 attacks on vital civilian facilities were carried out in January 2024, with the Syrian regime bombing civilian areas using incendiary weapons.

The 21-page report provides details of the most prominent violations documented in January 2024, including the civilian victims killed by the parties to the conflict and controlling forces during this period, in addition to providing a summary of the month’s arrests/detentions and enforced disappearances, along with other information. It also sheds light on indiscriminate attacks, the use of unlawful weapons, and attacks on civilian objects which SNHR was able to document during this period.

In compiling our reports, SNHR relies on our team’s continuous monitoring of incidents and news reports and on information gathered by a wide network of trusted contacts from dozens of diverse sources, in addition to exhaustive analysis of a large number of photos and videos.

In January 2024, the report reveals, SNHR documented the killing of 72 civilians, including 18 children and 10 women (adult female), while two massacres were documented this month. Among the 72 civilians, the report documents five deaths due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict and controlling forces in Syria, most of whom died at the hands of Syrian regime forces.

Additionally, the report reveals a total of 37 attacks on vital civilian facilities were documented in January 2024, including 29 attacks by Syrian regime forces, which were concentrated in the two governorates of Idlib and Aleppo. Of these 37 attacks, 11 targeted educational facilities, two targeted medical facilities, and three targeted places of worship. The report further records two attacks by Syrian regime forces that involved the use of incendiary weapons against civilian-populated areas far from the dividing lines, with no military movements detected at the targeted sites during the time of the attacks.

The report additionally documents ground attacks by Syrian regime forces that began on the very first day of 2024 and continued throughout January, targeting the villages and towns of southern and eastern rural Idlib, western rural Aleppo, and Sahl al-Ghab in western rural Hama, all of which are close to the dividing lines with armed opposition factions. These attacks also targeted Idlib city and villages and towns in western rural Aleppo and southern rural Idlib, which are far from the dividing lines. Furthermore, the report documents fires in seven camps sheltering internally displaced persons (IDPs); six of these blazes were caused by the misuse of heating devices, while the other one was caused by the misuse of cooking utensils. The report adds that the poor weather conditions caused  damage in no fewer than 105 camps sheltering IDPs and people affected by the earthquake in the rural areas of Idlib and Aleppo. The rains led to torrential flooding, with pools of muddy water cutting off roads, and completely destroying no fewer than 292 tents and temporary housing units, and partially destroying about 1,530 others. As for the living and service conditions in northwestern Syria, civilians are still grappling with worsening economic and living standards in light of rising prices for foodstuff and supplies. For instance, bread prices have increased across the region. Residents in these areas are already suffering from greatly reduced purchasing power due to widespread unemployment and rising poverty rates, as well as low wages, especially in areas housing IDPs camps, which is all made worse by the plummeting value of the TRY, the currency used in northwestern Syria.

Meanwhile, the report adds, Syrian regime forces continued their restrictive policies against civilians in areas under their control in January, with civilians still being persecuted and targeted over their political dissidence and expression of dissenting views, a freedom that should be protected by both the Syrian Constitution and international law. Syrian regime forces have also carried out arrests and other acts leading to enforced disappearances throughout the areas under their control. The governorates of Damascus, Rural Damascus ‘Rif Dimshaq’, and then Daraa saw the highest number of such practices in the month of January. Also, torture continues to be widespread in regime detention centers. As if all this weren’t enough, the regime continues to take over properties, rationalizing this practice through a system of specially designed laws and articles of legislation. The regime is also still stealing aid funds and using these both in the service of its goals and to control the fates of the intended recipients. The regime has been enforcing these practices through its absolute control over the NGOs receiving and managing those funds.

As the report further reveals, some areas located near the Jordanian borders, mostly in rural Suwayda governorate, were the target of aerial attacks carried out by fixed-wing warplanes originating from Jordanian territories, with these planes suspected to be affiliated with the Jordanian air force in January. The stated intention of those attacks was to combat the trade in Captagon and other narcotics. The most notable of these attacks was carried out on January 18, when 10 civilians were killed in an aerial attack on Orman town in southern Suwayda. Landmines also caused more casualties in January, which saw an incident where a landmine explosion killed one child and injured another three. Moreover, economic and living conditions continued to deteriorate, along with the service and security situation, across all sectors in regime-held areas. For one, the value of the Syrian Pound (SYP)’s exchange rate to American Dollars has continued to rise steadily. Naturally, this leads to price increases for all goods and services, including food supplies, which further adversely affects citizens’ purchasing power.

In northeastern Syria, the report documents an escalation in the number of artillery attacks carried out by regime forces and pro-regime Iranian militias against areas in Deir Ez-Zour where Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops are positioned. In turn, the SDF retaliated by bombarding regime-controlled areas. The clashes which first broke out on August 27, 2023, between the SDF and Arab tribes in Deir Ez-Zour backed by Deir Ez-Zour Military Council, continued in January, albeit sporadically, and were limited to areas of eastern Deir Ez-Zour. The report additionally notes that the skirmishes between troops stationed at military bases housing US-led International Coalition forces and Iranian militias stationed in regime-held areas further escalated in January. The two sides have been targeting one another in ground attacks in the two governorates in Hasaka and Deir Ez-Zour. IDPs’ suffering also continued in January in many of the irregular camps spread across northeastern Syria, particularly those located in western rural Deir Ez-Zour, with these IDPs still grappling with inadequate access to basic services, and lack of water and power, all further exacerbated by the harsh winter weather conditions.

The report stresses that all the evidence collected suggests that attacks have been deliberately directed at civilians and civilian facilities. Syrian-Russian alliance forces have committed a large variety of crimes, ranging from extrajudicial killings to arrests, torture and enforced disappearances. The report notes that these attacks and indiscriminate bombardment by air and ground forces have caused the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, shops, and other structures, and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.

The report affirms that the Syrian regime has violated international humanitarian and customary law, and UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2139 and resolution 2042 related to the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without facing any accountability.

The report further notes that the continuing indiscriminate and disproportionate shelling by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, with the group’s indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.

In the report, SNHR once again calls on the UN Security Council to take additional measures following the adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the need to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court and to hold all those involved, including the Russian regime, accountable since all have been proven to be involved in the commission of war crimes.

The report recommends that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution prohibiting the use of cluster munitions and mines in Syria similar to the existing prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, which should include information on how to safely dispose of the remnants of these dangerous weapons.

The report also calls on all relevant United Nations agencies to make far greater efforts regarding the provision of humanitarian, food and medical assistance in areas where hostilities have ceased, in camps for internally displaced persons, and in their follow-up on funding from states which have pledged the necessary voluntary contributions.

The report further calls for the application of the principle of responsibility to protect (R2P), especially after the exhaustion of political steps through all the agreements, statements of cessation of hostilities and Astana agreements issued to date, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII and apply the R2P principle, approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

The report additionally recommends that the International Independent Commission of Inquiry (CoI) should open investigations into the incidents detailed in this report and previous reports, confirming the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ readiness to cooperate in any such endeavors and to provide further evidence and details. It also calls for the issue of mines and cluster munitions to be highlighted in the CoI’s next report.

The report also calls on the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of all crimes and massacres and to denounce those who are primarily responsible for disregarding agreements reached on reducing the escalation of violence, as well as calling on him to restore the peace process to its normal form after Russia’s attempts to distort it, and to present the Constitutional Committee to the transitional government.

The report further stresses the need for the Syrian regime to cease its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, and its use of prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, and to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.

In addition, the report emphasizes the need for the countries supporting the SDF to press the Kurdish-led group to cease all its violations in all the areas and towns under its control. In the report, the SNHR again calls on the SDF to immediately end its conscription of children, to hold all personnel involved in doing so accountable, and to undertake to immediately return all children arrested for military conscription to their families.

The report further recommends that armed opposition factions and the SNA should ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, should distinguish between military and civilian targets, and should refrain from any further indiscriminate attacks.

The report also stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans with a view to securing dignified, safe shelter for internally displaced persons; and to provide care facilities and mechanisms such as medical establishments, schools and ambulances with markings visible from long distances, as well as making a number of additional recommendations.


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