147 Arbitrary Arrests Documented in May: Syrian Network Humanitarian Law

The report stresses that the Syrian regime has not fulfilled any of its obligations in any of the international treaties, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its latest report, released Friday, that it documented at least 147 arbitrary arrests/detentions in May 2022, including 13 children and four women, noting that the Syrian regime arbitrarily arrested 57 citizens in May and that arbitrary arrests continue following the issuance of the Amnesty Decree.

The report documents at least 147 arbitrary arrests/detentions in May 2022, including 13 children and four women, with 121 of these cases subsequently categorized as cases of enforced disappearance, all at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria; 57 of these were carried out at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces detained 48 individuals, including 13 children. The report also notes that all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army detained 31 individuals, while Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham detained 11 individuals.

Every detainee is tortured from the very first moment of his or her arrest and denied any opportunity to contact his or her family or to have access to a lawyer. The authorities also flatly deny the arbitrary arrests they have carried out and most of the detainees are subsequently categorized as forcibly disappearing.

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This report outlines the record of arbitrary arrests/detentions documented by SNHR in May 2022 by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, as well as shedding light on the most notable individual cases and incidents of arbitrary arrest and detention that the SNHR’s team documented during the same period, in addition to categorizing cases and incidents of arrest according to the location of the incident. The report does not include the kidnappings and abductions in which the report was unable to identify the responsible party. The report also documents arbitrary arrests that subsequently turned into enforced disappearances.

The report notes that Syrian regime forces have continued to persecute and target Syrian citizens in areas under regime control in connection with their political dissent and expression of opinions, despite the right to both being guaranteed by the constitution and international law.

The report also documents arrests by Syrian regime forces in Damascus Suburbs governorate targeting a number of civilians and former activists who had previously worked in the medical and humanitarian relief fields while their areas were under the control of factions of the Armed Opposition.

In terms of releases, SNHR’s monitoring and documentation operations continued regarding those released under the Amnesty Law included in Legislative Decree 7/2022 issued by the Syrian regime on April 30, 2022; in May, the report documents that the Syrian regime released about 527 people from various regime civil and military prisons and security branches in a number of Syrian governorates, including 59 women and 16 people who were children at the time of their arrest. As the report adds, the photos obtained of a number of those released show a clear deterioration in the health conditions.


Syrian Democratic Forces continued enforcing the group’s policies of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance in May. The report records campaigns of mass raids and detentions carried out by SDF personnel targeting civilians on the pretext of fighting ISIS cells, with some of these campaigns backed by U.S.-led coalition helicopters. The report also documents detentions targeting civilians, including a media activist. These arrests were concentrated in Raqqa and Hassakeh cities. In addition to these cases, the report documents the detention of a number of civilians, including a doctor and two nurses, in a raid on their workplace in the eastern suburbs of Deir Ez-Zor governorate.


As for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the report documents a number of detentions of civilians, including media activists and politicians, carried out by the group in May, with these arrests concentrated in the Idleb governorate. These arrests occurred due to the detainees expressing opinions critical of the HTS’s management of areas under its control. These detentions were carried out arbitrarily in the form of raids in which HTS members stormed their victims’ homes, often breaking down the doors, or abducting their victims while they were travelling or passing through temporary checkpoints.

Armed Opposition factions

As the report reveals, all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army also continued carrying out arbitrary detentions and kidnappings in May, most of which were carried out on a mass scale, targeting individuals coming from areas controlled by the Syrian regime. In addition, the report documents detentions carried out under an ethnic pretext, with these incidents being concentrated in areas under the Armed Opposition/Syrian National Army’s control in Aleppo governorate. Most of these arrests occurred without judicial authorization and without the participation of the police force, which is the legitimate administrative authority responsible for arrests and detentions through the judiciary, with these arrests also carried out without presenting any clear charges against those being detained. The report also documents raids and detentions carried out by Syrian National Army personnel, targeting civilians, including women, on charges of collaborating with Syrian Democratic Forces.

The report stresses that the Syrian regime has not fulfilled any of its obligations in any of the international treaties and conventions it has ratified, most particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The report notes that the other parties (SDF, HTS, and the Armed Opposition factions) are also all obliged to implement the provisions of international human rights law, and that they have committed widespread violations through arrests and enforced disappearances.


This article was 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.


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