SNHR has released a report entitled: “The Barbarian Bombardment and Siege on Eastern Ghouta Practically Invalidates the Upcoming Geneva Round” that sheds light on the most notable Syrian-Russian alliance’s violations in Eastern Ghouta from November 14, 2017 until November 27, 2017.
The report notes that Syrian-Russian alliance forces continued to target civilians and vital civilian facilities, as the killing and destruction never stopped as well as the starvation policy, even though the de-escalation agreement came into force on July 22, 2017, as the report records that no less than 14 massacres and 53 incidents of attack on vital civilian facilities, including seven medical facilities has been perpetrated since July 22, 2017 (as of this writing).
The report notes that these violations strongly indicates that the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance aims to undermine any de-escalation agreement, diligently and avidly work on submitting the Syrian people into surrendering and then accepting the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, paving the way for the Syrian regime to establish his complete rule over Syria.
Dr. Majd Dalati, SNHR researcher in Eastern Ghouta, adds: “This is the first time in seven years that Eastern Ghouta has seen such a heavy and continued shelling with all kinds of weapon, even cluster munitions. Residents have spent days in basements and caves, and hospitals are overcrowded with wounded. We have lost nearly 100 victims. who were mostly women and children. Hundreds wounded. Hundreds of destroyed houses. Thousands of people who have been traumatized. And all of this has happened as the international community stands idly by in utter silence, while the miraculous endurance of the residents of Ghouta continues.”
The report draws upon the ongoing monitoring for incidents and news by SNHR team and an extensive network of relations with tens of various sources. The report contains four accounts that have been collected through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, and are not cited from any open sources.
According to the report, the targeted areas were civilian areas where no military centers or weapon warehouses for armed opposition factions or extremist Islamic groups were found before or during the attack. Also, Syrian/Russian forces didn’t alert the civilians prior to the attack as the international humanitarian law requires.
The report notes that 146 civilians, including 37 children, 13 women, four civil defense personnel, and two medical personnel, were killed in the period of time covered by the report. Additionally, the report records six massacres that were perpetrated by the Syrian-Russian alliance. The report adds that among the victims were three civilians, including one child and one woman, who died in light of the siege imposed by Syrian regime forces on the region.
According to the report, 12 attacks on vital civilian facilities were recorded, including three attacks on mosques, two on schools, and one a hospital.
The report also records three attacks that involved the use of cluster munitions, in addition to one attack using poison gases. All of the four attacks were carried out by Syrian regime forces.
The report stresses that the Syrian and Russian regimes have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, The Syrian and Russian regimes have violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes. The report adds that the bombardment has targeted defenseless civilians. Therefore, Syrian and Russian forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Additionally, these violations were perpetrated in a non-international armed conflict which amount to a war crime where all elements were fulfilled.
The report calls on the Russian regime to launch investigations regarding the incidents included in this report and, then, make the findings of these investigations public for the Syrian people, and hold the people involved accountable. Also, the damaged facilities and centers should be compensated.
The report also calls on the Security Council Resolution to take additional steps after Resolution 2254 was adopted, which states: “Demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
The report also calls for the referral of the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and all those who are responsible must be held accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven. Also, security and peace must be instilled in Syria, and the Reasonability to Protect norm must be implemented in order to protect the lives, culture, and history of the Syrian people from being destroyed, looted, and ruined. Additionally, sanctions should be expanded to include the Russian and Iranian regimes who are directly involved in committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
The report calls on the United Nations special envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of the crimes, the massacres, and those who were primarily responsible for shattering the de-escalation agreements. And stop liming the Security Council briefings to the violations of al Nussra Front and ISIS.
The report emphasizes that the international community should take action on the national and regional to form alliances that support the Syrian people, work on implementing the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm, and apply pressure on the Security Council in order to refer the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court.