871 Civilians Killed, including 179 Children, in Eastern Ghouta in a Month after Security Council Resolution 2401 on Cessation of Hostilities was Adopted
Tens of Thousands Displaced and Chemical and Incendiary Weapons Used, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Continue
SNHR said in a report released today that 871 civilians were killed, including 179 children, in Eastern Ghouta as a month has passed since Security Council Resolution 2401 was adopted.
The report stresses Resolution 2401, adopted on February 24, 2018, failed to stop any type of violations, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, and even chemical weapons were used. Tens of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced from the towns and cities of Eastern Ghouta after they were erased almost completely.
The report notes that the Syrian-Iranian alliance forces on the ground managed to take over 80% of the besieged Eastern Ghouta in three weeks after the Security Council Resolution was passed as a result of the heavy bombardment on the towns and cities of Eastern Ghouta.
The report adds that the raids were in parallel with a heavy displacement waves to the areas that are still under the control of the armed opposition which are increasingly shrinking. In light of that, as well as the ceaseless bombardment, The Syrian regime opened al Wafidin Camp on February 27 according to the report.
The report also includes the most notable agreements and resolutions on Eastern Ghouta in the month that followed Security Council Resolution 2401.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, added:
“The Security Council has failed to provide any form of humanitarian protection for civilians from the killing, enforced displacement, torture, and enforced-disappearance. Also, the Security Council has failed to stop the flow of millions of refugees, as well as upholding any of its Resolutions. Russia, a member of the Security Council, has voted 11 times to protect the rule of the Assad family, while China voted seven times in favor of the Assad family. On the other hand, the rest of the members haven’t made any notable efforts to put an end to the Syrian catastrophe. The Security Council’s mission is now to threaten security and peace in Syria.”
The report outlines the most notable violations by Syrian regime/Russian forces in the region of Eastern Ghouta from when Security Council Resolution 2401 was adopted on the evening of February 24, 2018, until the evening of March 24, 2018 that included killings, targeting vital civilian facilities, and using prohibited weapons.
The report documents that Syrian regime forces and their allies have killed 871 civilians, including 179 children, 123 women (adult female), four media workers, seven medical personnel, among them was a doctor, and 12 civil defense members. Also, these forces perpetrated 34 massacres.
Also, the report says that these forces were responsible for 19 attacks on vital civilian facilities, including eight civil defense facilities and vehicles, four medical facilities, four mosques, and two local markets.
In addition, the report notes that Syrian regime forces helicopters dropped approximately 732 barrel bombs in the period of time covered by the report, in addition to one attack using chemical weapons, three attacks using incendiary ammunitions, and three attacks using cluster munitions by Syrian regime/Russian forces.
The report stresses that Syrian-Iranian alliance forces have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council resolution 2401, which states that hostilities should be ceased, as well as resolutions 2139 and 2254 that preceded, as both resolutions state that indiscriminate attacks must be ceased. Also, these forces have violated Articles 7 and 8 of Rome Statute through the crime of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
The report stresses that the international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits enforced displacement with restricted exceptions. Any violation of its rules in this regard constitutes a war crime. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that as well (Articles 8-2-b-viii and 8-2-e-viii).
Moreover, the report adds that enforced displacement is a war crime in non-international armed conflict. When perpetrated as part of a widespread or systematic attack against civilians, enforced transfer constitutes a serious breach to Geneva Agreements. It also qualifies as crimes against humanity (Article 7-1-d of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) in addition to the rules 129, 130, 131, 132, and 133 of the customary international law. What the Syrian regime and its allies have perpetrated in the context of a coordinated, deliberate, widespread attack based on informed strategies constitutes, therefore, a crime against humanity. In addition, these acts were committed in a non-international armed conflict which constitutes a war crime.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps after resolution 2401 was adopted, which explicitly provides for the cease of hostilities and facilitating the passage of humanitarian aids into besieged areas. Also, the report calls on the Security Council to refer the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court and hold all those who were responsible for crimes accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes have been proven.
The report also calls on the Security Council to Compel the Syrian regime to cease settlement and demographic replacement operations in the cities and neighborhoods whose residents are being displaced, as well as ensure the right of the refugees and IDPs to return and recover all of their lands and properties.
The report stresses that the norm ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P)’, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented especially after all political channels were consumed, as well as the de-escalation agreements and statement and Astana agreement. Therefore, after all of this, action should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ norm should be implemented.
The report also urges the international community and relief groups to supply makeshift hospitals with the necessary medical equipment, especially prosthetic in light of the rapid increase in amputation cases among the wounded in Syria. 2,400 various artificial limbs should be secured in all of the areas of Eastern Ghouta as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the report calls on the Russian regime to adhere to the truce it announced and apply pressure on the Syrian regime and its Iranian militias to allow the sick and the humanitarian cases to exit first. Also, the report calls on the Russian regime to ensure the safety of the civilians who want to exit without any arrests or enforced-disappearances.
Additionally, the report stresses that the Russian regime should stop shielding the Syrian regime at the Security Council and using veto to prevent the passing of any international resolution that punishes the Syrian regime.
The report calls on the Syrian regime to not only cease enforced displacements, but to prevent them. Also, the report calls on the Syrian regime to protect residents from such operations, rather than being the one who is responsible for them.