SNHR has released its annual special report for the year 2017 which was entitled: “A Displaced People and a State Left in Ruins”. The report monitors the most notable violations of human rights by the parties to the conflict in Syria of the last year.
The report sheds light on the political and military developments that occurred in the Syrian scene in 2017. In addition, the report includes a comparison between the most notable patterns of human rights violations for 2016 and 2017. Also, the report evaluates the fallout of the conflict with regard to the distribution of areas of control in 2017 which saw a significant expansion in territories for the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance forces at the expense of ISIS and factions from the armed opposition.
The report documents the killing of 10,204 civilians, including 2,298 children and 1,536 women (adult female) at the hands of the parties to the conflict. Of those, 4,148 civilians were killed by Syrian regime forces, including 754 children and 591 women while 1,436 civilians, including 439 children and 284 women, were killed by Russian forces. 2017 saw international coalition forces surpassing Russian forces in terms of civilian death numbers as international coalition forces killed 1,759 civilians, including 521 children and 332 women.
Further, the report records that Self-Management forces killed 316 civilians, including 58 children and 54 women, while Extremist Islamic groups killed 1,446 civilians, including 1,421 civilians killed by ISIS while the remaining 25 civilians were killed by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. Out of the 1,421 civilians killed by ISIS, 281 were children and 148 women whereas Hay’at Tahrir al Sham killed two children and one woman.
The report documents that 186 civilians, including 45 children and 29 women, were killed by factions from the armed opposition in 2017 who were either killed by executions, indiscriminate shelling, or torture. Lastly, the report records that 913 civilians were killed in attacks whose perpetrators weren’t identified or in attacks by border guards affiliated to the neighboring countries – Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
According to the report, 2017 saw approximately 6,571 cases of arbitrary arrest, including 4,796 individuals who were arrested by Syrian regime forces. Of those, 303 were children and 674 were women (adult female). Extremist Islamic groups arrested no less than 843 individuals, divided into 539 arrested by ISIS, including 75 children and 37 women, and 304 individuals arrested by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. 231 individuals, including nine children and three women, were arrested by factions from the armed opposition while Kurdish Self-Management forces arrested 647 individuals, including 47 children and 46 women.
The report says that 232 individuals died due to torture in 2017, including 211 individuals who died due to torture at the hands of Syrian regime forces, and seven at the hands of factions from the armed opposition.
The report outlines the most notable violations against medical personnel by the parties to the conflict, through killing medical personnel and targeting medical facilities in 2017, as the report records the killing of 64 medical personnel and 101 attacks on medical points and facilities. The Syrian-Russian alliance was responsible for the majority of these violations, killing no less than 44 medical personnel and carrying out 84 attacks on medical facilities and points.
The report adds that 42 media workers were killed in 2017, 50% of them were killed by Syrian regime forces and their Russian allies.
The report also documents the use of chemical weapons in 2017, which were used in 17 attacks – all by Syrian regime forces while the number of documented attacks in which cluster munitions were used reached 57 attacks, including 47 by Russian forces, while the remaining 10 were by Syrian regime forces. The report also notes that 6,243 barrel bombs at least were dropped by Syrian regime forces warplanes in 2017.
In addition, the report documents 38 attacks using incendiary ammunitions, divided into 35 attacks by Russian forces, one by Syrian regime forces, and two by international coalition forces.
The report stresses that the Security Council has to take additional steps after Resolution 2254 was adopted, which states: “… immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such…”. Also, the report says that the Security Council should refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and hold all perpetrators accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven.
The report calls for expanding sanctions to include the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian regimes who were directly involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report emphasizes that the OHCHR should submit a report to the Human Rights Council and other organs of the United Nations on the incidents mentioned in this report considering that these attacks were perpetrated by the parties to the conflict.
Moreover, the report calls on the international envoy to Syria to expand Security Council briefings rather than only limiting them to the violations of al Nussra Front and ISIS, and condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were the primary reason for the doom of the de-escalation agreements.
The report calls on the international community to take steps on the national and regional level to form alliances to support the Syrian people, protect them from the daily killing, and lift the siege. Also, support for relief efforts should be raised.
The report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) norm, after all political channels through the Arab League’s plan and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan have been drought out as well as the Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements that followed. Therefore, steps under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations should be taken and the norm of the “Responsibility to Protect”, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented. The Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria.
The report stresses that the Russian regime should Launch investigations regarding the incidents included in this report, make the findings of these investigations public for the Syrian people, and hold the people involved accountable. Also, the Russian regime should compensate all the damaged centers and facilities, rebuild and rehabilitate them, and compensate all the victims’ families, who were killed by the current Russian regime, as well as the all the wounded.
The report adds that the Russian regime, as a guarantor party in Astana talks, should stop failing de-escalation agreements, and apply pressure on the Syrian regime in order to end all indiscriminate attacks and allow an unconditional passage of humanitarian aids to besieged areas. Additionally, the Russian regime should start making progress with respect to the detainees issue by revealing the fates of 76,000 persons who have fallen victims to the crime of enforced-disappearance at the hands of the Syrian regime.
The report calls on the international coalition forces to unequivocally acknowledge that some of the bombardment operations have resulted in the killing of innocent civilians. The report says that international coalition forces should launch serious investigations and take speedy steps to compensate and apologize to the victims and those who were affected.
Lastly, the report calls on the SDF-supporting states to apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns that are under their control. And cease all forms of support, including weapon and otherwise.