The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued, on Monday, Mar. 1, 2021, its new monthly report on extrajudicial killings in Syria.
The SNHR recorded the killing of 138 civilians in Syria in February 2021, including 23 children and 11 women, as well as 14 torture victims, including one child. This suggests that killings are still occurring ten years after the popular movement for democracy began.
The report also included a breakdown of the death toll by the different perpetrators. The SNHR’s Victim Documentation Team reported the deaths of 138 civilians in February, including 23 children and 11 adult women, 19 of whom were killed by Syrian regime forces, including two children and a woman. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) killed six civilians, including a child. The Islamic State (ISIS) killed one civilian. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) killed a child. The armed opposition, or National Army, killed a civilian. Other parties were responsible for killing the remaining 110 civilians, including 19 children, and ten women.
The report recorded three massacres triggered by bombings that the SNHR was unable to trace the perpetrators of. It described the term massacre as the attack that caused the killing of at least five people at once.
Death by torture
The SNHR team documented the killing of 14 people due to torture. Ten were tortured by Syrian regime troops, one by the SDF, two by other groups, and one child by the HTS.
According to the report, civilian casualties from mines continued in February, with the deaths of 16 civilians, including six children. These casualties raised the total number of civilians killed by mines since the beginning of 2021 to 34, including 22 children.
According to the report, there is great difficulty in determining the party that planted mines, due to the multiplicity of forces that controlled the areas in which the explosions occurred. As a result, the report does not assign the vast majority of mine victims to a single group, nor does it reveal any of the forces involved in the Syrian conflict or maps of mine-planting locations.
The report referred to the Civil Defense’s announcement on February 17 that it had discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 19 unidentified corpses during rubble removal operations in Aleppo’s eastern countryside, which most likely dates back to ISIS’s control of the city where it fought National Army factions.
Poor conditions for camps and refugees
The report highlighted the continuing poor conditions in the camps and those of the refugees. It monitored the deaths as a result of the lack of food and medicine and the basic necessities of life in the camps.
The report goes on to say that remote bombing operations in Syria have continued in the past month, citing three massacres in February that were all triggered by unexplained blasts. These bombings killed 18 civilians, including seven children and two adult women.
Violation of international humanitarian law
The report confirmed that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law as well as all UN Security Council resolutions — especially Resolution 2139, Resolution 2042, and Resolution 2254 — and did so without any accountability.
According to the report, ISIS and HTS violated international humanitarian law by killing civilians. In addition, the SDF carried out attacks that were in breach of international humanitarian law, as well as indiscriminate killings that constituted war crimes.
The report urged the Security Council to take further steps in accordance with Resolution 2254 and emphasized the importance of referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court and holding all parties responsible. This includes the Russian government after evidence of its involvement in war crimes emerged.
It also called on the relevant UN agencies to make further efforts to ensure the availability of food and medical humanitarian assistance in areas where fighting has ended, and in camps for internally displaced persons, and to monitor the countries which have pledged donations.
It also recommended that the international community work on preparing projects aimed at drawing up maps that reveal the locations of mines and cluster munitions in all Syrian governorates, which would facilitate the process of demining and making the population aware of their locations.
The report stressed the need for the Syrian regime to stop its indiscriminate bombing operations, targeting residential areas, hospitals, schools, and markets, and stop torture operations that have caused the death of thousands of Syrian citizens in detention centers, and to comply with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.