In a landmark international case, judges have been presented with evidence that Syria has subjected tens of thousands of its citizens to torture, operating a system of “abhorrent treatment” that spans extensively. Simultaneously, tensions persist along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, marked by ongoing shelling. This situation is reminiscent of 2006, sparking concerns on both sides about a potential recurrence of the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah, a Shiite group with a stated goal of destroying the Jewish state.
Syria accused of ‘pervasive’ torture in first global case over civil war
Syria has tortured tens of thousands of its people and maintains a “widespread and pervasive” system of “abhorrent treatment”, world court judges have heard at the first international case related to the civil war in the country.
Canada and the Netherlands have brought Syria before the international court of justice (ICJ), seeking urgent measures to stop the mistreatment of thousands of people still in detention.
“Every day counts,” René Lefeber, the top representative for the Netherlands, told the court. “Persons in Syria who are currently detained or at risk of being detained cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Damascus snubbed the first day of hearings and has previously dismissed the case as “disinformation and lies”, saying the allegations “lack the slightest degree of credibility”.
Lefeber cited wrenching testimony from detainees, describing gang rapes, mutilation and a “standardized” punishment method involving contorting people into a car tyre and administering a “severe beating”.
Canada and the Netherlands have asked the ICJ to “urgently” demand that Syria stop all torture and arbitrary detention, open prisons to outside inspectors and provide information to families about the fate of their loved ones.
The ICJ can take years to rule on a case, but urgent “provisional measures” can be ordered in a matter of weeks and are legally binding.
“It is our sincere belief that the lives and wellbeing of Syrians are at stake and require the court’s immediate attention,” said Lefeber.
Ahmad Helmi, a former prisoner who is now an activist, said: “I was in prison in Syria for three years and I know for sure that torture is happening around the clock. It’s happening around the hour.”
“It doesn’t happen only for interrogation. Sometimes it happens for fun. Just because they feel they enjoy impunity, they can do whatever they want.”
“Hundreds of people are dying under torture every month,” said Helmi in an interview before the hearings.
Along Israel’s Borders With Lebanon and Syria, Clashes Raise Fears of Another Front
Shelling sounded out along Israel’s volatile northern border with Lebanon for a third consecutive day Tuesday, stoking fears on both sides of a repeat of 2006, when Israel fought a bloody monthlong war with Hezbollah, the Shiite group committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, The New York Times reported.
Although paling in comparison to the fighting that has taken place around Gaza, in the country’s southwest, the continued clashes on Israel’s northern border have deepened unease over the possibility that the conflict — already the broadest invasion in 50 years — could spread to multiple fronts.
There were signs late Tuesday that could happen: The Israeli Army said it had identified a number of launches from Syria into Israeli territory, the first time that fire had been exchanged across that border since fighting erupted on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Israeli military said the projectiles apparently fell in an open area and that it had been firing artillery and mortar shells in return.
Along the Israel-Lebanon border, the day had begun with residents assessing the aftermath of clashes Monday, when Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group based in Gaza, sent fighters into Israel, two of whom died. Funeral processions were held in southern Lebanon for three Hezbollah fighters also killed amid the skirmish by Israeli shelling.
But the relative calm was shattered Tuesday evening when 15 rockets were fired over the border from just outside the Lebanese city of Tyre, on the Mediterranean coast, the Israeli military said. Four of the rockets were intercepted, the military said.
Although it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, the Israelis said they had responded by striking two Hezbollah observation posts with tank fire. Hezbollah responded in turn with an anti-tank guided missile attack on an Israeli armored personnel carrier in the northern Israeli town of Avivim, according to a statement from Al Manar, the Hezbollah-owned Lebanese broadcaster.
Hezbollah published footage it said was of the attack, which showed two strikes on an idle military vehicle, leaving it with considerable damage. The Israeli Army said no soldiers were injured. It added that Israeli forces had struck another Hezbollah observation post in response.
As the exchange of fire continued late into the night, two senior Lebanese army officials claimed that Israel had used munitions loaded with white phosphorus, the use of which can be a violation of international law when civilian areas are targeted. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.
Footage posted online showed white puffs trailing white smoke before falling to the ground. A spokesperson for the Israeli Army denied the use of white phosphorus, saying soldiers had deployed only illumination flares.
Global Coalition’s inaction to boost ISIS activity – AANES official
An official of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) said the stance of the US-led Global Coalition towards the Turkish strikes on northeastern Syria “create the right conditions for increasing the activity of the Islamic State (ISIS).”
Amina Osse, Deputy co-chair of the Executive Council of the AANES, said the actors in the Syrian issue ignored the “unjustified” Turkish attacks.
The AANES contacted officials in the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS, and Russia to report “the scale of the damages inflicted to vital infrastructure facilities that provided services for the community,” Osse stated to the official account of the Executive Council.
Since Oct. 5, Turkey has launched many airstrikes, artillery shells, and drone strikes against 28 infrastructure facilities, 150 residential areas, 34 military sites, including 21 locations of the Syrian government forces, seven farmlands, three factories, a school and a hospital, according to the Monitoring and Documentation Department of North Press.
The strikes took place following a statement by Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, in which he threatened to strike a broader range of targets in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the Ankara attack.
SDF kills 4 Turkish soldiers, 3 SNA militants in Syria’s Hasakah
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stated on Wednesday their forces attacked two Turkish military bases in occupied areas in the countryside of Tel Tamr in Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria.
The SDF’s Media Center stated their forces carried out on Tuesday “an operation targeting two bases of the Turkish occupation in the occupied villages of Knehir and Arba’in, Tal Tamir northern countryside.”
The operation resulted in the killing of four Turkish soldiers and three militants from Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA) in addition to the injury of several others, the statement added.
So far, the total death toll of Turkish soldiers reached 22 soldiers killed and dozens wounded following operations in response to the Turkish attacks on civilians and vital infrastructure in northeastern Syria, the SDF noted.
Since Oct. 5, Turkey launched many airstrikes, artillery shells, and drone strikes against 28 infrastructure facilities, 150 residential areas, 34 military sites, including 21 locations of the Syrian government forces, seven farmlands, three factories, a school and a hospital, according to the Monitoring and Documentation Department of North Press.
The SDF further added they “will continue to respond to the attacks of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries, within the framework of their legitimate right to defend and protect their areas and people, a right guaranteed by all international laws and legislation.”