Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Universal Children’s Day – Syrian Children Need More Attention, Support from International Community

Syrian refugee children attend a lesson in a UNICEF temporary classroom in northern Lebanon, July 2014- Photo Credit DFID – UK Department for International Development

Universal Children’s Day: Syrian Children Need More Attention, Support from International Community

Today, November 20, the international community celebrates Universal Children’s Day, promoting the welfare of children. This day also marks the anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and Convention of the Rights of a Child. In Syria, the legal principles enshrined in these international instruments have failed to protect the rights of millions of children and youth. Syria’s so-called “lost generation” – youth facing a pervasive lack of education, resources, and prospects for future success – remains in desperate need of greater international attention to ensure their immediate basic rights. Consideration is likewise needed in the transitional justice process to address pervasive rights violations and ensure their long-term security and prosperity.

Children are acutely vulnerable during conflicts, and the Syrian war has caused the country’s youth to suffer both immediate harm and severe long-term injury in developmental growth. Some of the most prevalent violations against Syrian children include:

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Syria Deeply: Victory and loss in Deir Ezzor, plus Moscow and Washington’s agreements on Syria, and dire humanitarian conditions in Eastern Ghouta

Syria Deeply
Nov. 13th, 2017
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Victory and Loss in Deir Ezzor: After various claims of victory and days of intense clashes between pro-government forces and so-called Islamic State fighters in Deir Ezzor, ISIS apparently recaptured Boukamal, its last stronghold in Syria, on Saturday.

On Thursday, the Syrian government had declared victory over the militant group in Boukamal, but ISIS launched a counterattack just hours later. Fierce fighting ensued as ISIS “began surprise attacks with suicide bombers and rocket attacks after the Iranian militias were duped that Daesh had left the city,” Qahtan Ghanam al-Ali, a tribal leader, told Reuters, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS..

By the weekend, reports said Iraqi militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah had retreated from Boukamal and were “1 to 2 km [0.6–1.2 miles] from the city limits,” Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), told Agence France-Presse.

Between Friday and Sunday at least 50 people, including 20 children, were killed in shelling and artillery bombardment in the countryside near Boukamal along the Euphrates river, the SOHR reported. Two camps for the internally displaced were among the targeted areas, according to AFP.

Diplomatic Response: Russia and the U.S. issued a joint presidential statement on Saturday affirming that there is “no military solution to the conflict in Syria” and reiterating their commitment to fighting ISIS.

U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin also “agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces,” the statement said.

The statement, which was released after Trump and Putin met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, said both presidents agreed that, ultimately, the solution to the conflict in Syria must be reached through the Geneva process.

Israel signaled that it would continue to strike Syria in an effort to push back advancing Iranian-backed militias from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. This comes alongside a separate agreement between Trump and Putin to expand a cease-fire in southwestern Syria, near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

Dire Situation in Eastern Ghouta: The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Sunday for immediate humanitarian access to the besieged Eastern Ghouta area in the Damascus suburbs.

As many as 400,000 people are trapped in the rebel-held area without access to health and basic living necessities. More than 240 people need “urgent advanced medical care,” at least 29 of whom need medical evacuation, according to a statement from the United Nations health agency.

“The situation is heartbreaking,” said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Syria. “We have now reached a critical point, where the lives of hundreds of people, including many children, are at stake. If they do not immediately get the medical care they urgently need, they will most likely die.”

On Thursday, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva that 29 civilians, including 18 children, were at risk of imminent death. Seven others had already died, he said.

“I feel as if we are now returning to some of the bleakest days of this conflict again,” Egeland said. “Nowhere is it as bad as in Eastern Ghouta.”

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DISPLACEMENT

Back Home in Homs: Challenges Facing Returnees to Syria

For many Syrians displaced from Homs over six years of war, going home means facing a gap in public services, the absence of social and economic support systems and security risks. Many who have returned have found debris where their houses once stood.

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CIVIL SOCIETY

Women at Forefront of Humanitarian Demining Efforts in Syria

The explosive remnants of war pose a long-term threat to reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts in Syria. Women, however, are playing a notably growing role as humanitarian groups shift their focus to land-mine clearing and risk education..

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OPPOSITION GROUPS & REBEL FORCES

Conversations: Fleeing ISIS Conscription in Deir Ezzor

When ISIS ordered the forced conscription of all men of fighting age in Deir Ezzor, Ali knew he had no other choice but to enlist a smuggler and escape the eastern province.

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Community Insight

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DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

What an ISIS Retreat in Boukamal Could Mean for the War in Syria

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Hashem Osseiran,  Deputy Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

The Syrian government is trying to capture the last ISISstronghold in Syria. If it’s successful, it would be positioned for both a military and economic boost as it moves to secure a section of its frontier with Iraq, according to Fabrice Balanche of the Hoover Institution.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Chemical Weapons Investigations in Syria Must Continue

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Rogelio Pfirter,  Argentine Diplomat

The U.N. Security Council’s failure to renew the inquiry into chemical weapons in Syria unjustly questions investigators’ important work, according to Rogelio Pfirter, former director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

FIRST LOOK

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Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Ghouta Siege – UN Must Respond to Government-Sanctioned Starvation and Civilian Harm

SJAC Update | November 8, 2017
Children wait for a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy delivery of food in besieged Eastern Ghouta. | Source: BBC Arabic

Ghouta Siege: UN Must Respond to Government-Sanctioned Starvation and Civilian Harm

In October, photos of severely malnourished children in Eastern Ghouta brought renewed international attention to the plight of an estimated 400,000 civilians trapped in the Damascus suburb. Residents have been pushed to the brink of famine after the government tightened its siege in March – blocking all trade and smuggling routes into the region and regularly barring United Nations aid convoys from delivering essential goods and services to civilians. The UN has clearly prescribed rules of siege warfare, and its continued refusal to act in the face of blatant violations and an urgent humanitarian crisis is putting hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians at imminent risk of death.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Syrian government has used sieges to effectively isolate, contain, and drain rebel militias into submission without exhausting its diminishing military manpower, notably in the governorates of Homs and Damascus. Seeking a decisive victory this March over Eastern Ghouta – the last rebel-held enclave in the Damascus suburbs – government forces seized the network of smuggling tunnels connecting Ghouta to Damascus City and the al Wafideen crossing. These crossings were the main supply routes for Ghouta’s food and basic goods, and the resulting shortage has caused dramatic price surges on remaining supplies.

The government likewise continues to routinely block UN aid convoys access to Eastern Ghouta, despite a July de-escalation agreement between rebels and Moscow providing for the distribution of food and humanitarian assistance. Syrian forces allowed only 26 percent of requested UN aid to be to delivered in the area between January and September. This move further dwindled supplies and triggered inflation. Reports indicate residents have been forced to eat plants and grass to survive, while cases of malnutrition among children have nearly doubled in some areas. Residents have reportedly begun looting remaining food warehouses – a possible sign of growing desperation. In late October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called the situation a humanitarian emergency and reminded all parties that deliberate starvation of civilians is a crime under international law. Briefing the Security Council, the UN Special Envoy to Syria likewise highlighted the lack of de-escalation and humanitarian access in Eastern Ghouta, stating that “those with influence” must work to enable the UN and its partners to deliver assistance by whatever modalities are available.

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Syria Deeply: Syria negotiations begin again amid intense fighting in Deir Ezzor and dire humanitarian conditions in the Damascus suburbs

Syria Deeply
Oct. 30th, 2017
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of the crisis in Syria.

For Syria Deeply’s ongoing feature, Expert Views, we’re gathering fresh insight and commentary from our expert community. This week, we will focus on how the capture of resource-rich territory from ISIS has altered the playing field for Syria’s oil and gas. We invite you to share your insights here.

Talks resume A fresh round of talks kicked off in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Monday. Delegations from the Syrian government and some armed opposition groups, as well as representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, were expected to attend the talks.

Talks in Astana are expected to focus on securing the four de-escalation zones, as well as hostage releases, aid deliveries to besieged areas and the fate of those missing in Syria, according to Al Jazeera.

Last week, United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced that the eighth round of Syria peace talks in Geneva are scheduled to begin on November 28.

De Mistura held talks with United States secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Thursday. Following the meeting, Tillerson told reporters: “The U.S. wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad in the government … We do not believe that there is a future for the Assad regime and Assad family. The [family] reign is coming to an end. The only issue is how that should be brought about.”

Deir Ezzor casualties Dozens have been killed in fierce clashes between pro-government forces and the so-called Islamic State in Deir Ezzor over the weekend.

At least 50 ISIS militants and some 23 pro-government fighters have been killed in the 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, after ISIS reportedly launched an attack in the provincial capital. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that fighting was ongoing on Monday, and had documented the deaths of at least seven civilians, but expected the death toll to rise.

Pro-regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, made strategic advances over the weekend, taking control of parts of al-Hamidiyah neighborhood. ISIS carried out counterattacks in the area overnight on Saturday, but pro-regime forces continued their advance, targeting the neighborhoods of Arfi and Ommal, SOHR reported on Monday.

The fierce fighting began after pro-government forces on Thursday seized the T2 oil pumping station west of the ISIS stronghold of Boukamal near the border with Iraq.

Shelling in Damascus suburbs Pro-regime shelling on the Saqba and Hamouriyah districts north of Damascus on Sunday killed at least 11 civilians, including two women, a child and a media activist.

The Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus are part of a designated de-escalation zone, but violence and siege conditions have persisted in the area nonetheless.

On Friday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein said at least 350,000 people were trapped in the area, calling on all parties to allow food and medicine deliveries. Earlier last week, UNICEF said that more than 1,100 children in the enclave are suffering from acute malnutrition.

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CIVIL SOCIETY

Inside Rukban Camp, One of Syria’s Most Desperate Settlements

The situation in the Rukban camp for internally displaced persons near the border with Jordan is rapidly deteriorating. International humanitarian groups are close to being overwhelmed, despite local NGOs and rebel groups trying to help out as well.

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WAR ECONOMY

Eyes on Damascus: Electricity, Pharmacists, Siege and Sports

As the Syrian government and foreign powers look to wind down the war in Syria, we are closely monitoring developments on the ground in the capital for our monthly report from Damascus.

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OPPOSITION GROUPS & REBEL FORCES

Hostility Toward Militants Grows in Idlib as Turkey Deploys Troops

Residents of Syria’s Idlib province have welcomed Turkey’s latest cross-border campaign and many say they would side against HTS militants if a confrontation were to occur.

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DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Analysis: What the Reconstruction of Raqqa Could Mean for Syria’s War

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Aron Lund,  Freelance Journalist and Analyst Specializing in Syria

After the dangerous process of demining Raqqa is completed, the question of who will govern and rebuild the city will become even more crucial and could impact the endgame of the war, writes Syria expert Aron Lund in IRIN News.

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DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Washington’s Partner Problem in Syrian Battle Against ISIS

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Barak Barfi,  Research fellow, New America Foundation

Radicalization, attrition and defections mean only questionable partners remain for the U.S. government in the campaign against ISIS in Syria, warns New America Foundation fellow Barak Barfi.

FIRST LOOK

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Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: The Whack-a-Mole Strategy Against ISIS Carries a Civilian Toll

SJAC Update | October 26, 2017
A bus convoy of ISIS fighters travels from the border of Lebanon to eastern Syria | Photo from Wochit News

The Whack-a-Mole Strategy Against ISIS Carries a Civilian Toll

In mid-October, the US military granted safe passage to hundreds of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants out of Raqqa – the group’s de facto capital –  pursuant an evacuation deal arranged by the city’s civil council and tribal elders. This sanctioned exodus is part of a string of deals, which allow members of the UN-designated terrorist organization to evade capture in exchange for the surrender of territory. Though the US military expressly premises the evacuations on the preservation of civilian life, these agreements have generally been executed only after ground battles and aerial bombardment inflict substantial damage to civilian life and property. Moreover, the evacuation agreements lack a consistent strategy for eradicating extremist militias and the root causes that led to their rise. To build the long-term peace and stability necessary to prevent ISIS’s return, it is imperative the US articulates and implements a strategy for Syria that prioritizes civilian protection and welfare.

The Raqqa evacuation deal, though widely hailed by media as a decisive victory against ISIS, led to several problematic outcomes. On October 14, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force against ISIS issued a press release stating that the evacuation agreement facilitates Raqqa’s liberation while minimizing civilian harm. While the deal did force militants into areas outside of the city, it appeared to have few (if any) conditions. In reality, the fighters simply moved to other ISIS strongholds in Deir ez-Zor province.

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Syria Deeply: Our updates on the battles for Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, the cease-fire south of Damascus, and Turkey’s military expansion in northern Syria

Syria Deeply
Oct. 16th, 2017
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of crisis in Syria.

Fight Against ISIS: The battles against ISIS in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa advanced over the weekend as pro-government forces claim to have recaptured al-Mayadeen, and U.S.-backed forces announced their final push against militants in Raqqa city.

Citing Russia’s defense ministry, the Associated Press said on Saturday that Syrian troops fully freed al-Mayadeen, in Deir Ezzor province, from ISIS militants. An unidentified Syrian military source confirmed the advance to Reuters, saying that ISIS suffered a “collapse” in their ranks. The ISIS command structure is believed to be based in the city, which is on the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq.

The advance came after ISIS launched a triple car-bomb attack in eastern Syria on Thursday, killing at least 50 people, including internally displaced civilians and Kurdish security personnel, Reuters said.

On Sunday, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched the “final phase” of their battle against ISIS in Raqqa after hundreds of militants surrendered, the SDF said in a statement, adding that the latest push was aimed to drive the few hundred remaining ISIS fighters from their positions inside the city. The announcement came after more than 3,000 civilians and some 275 Syrian ISIS fighters and their families, were evacuated from the city Saturday night under a deal negotiated between local officials from the Raqqa Civil Council and ISIS fighters.

Cease-fire in South Damascus: A cease-fire went into effect at noon on Thursday in a rebel enclave south of Damascus, after three opposition groups agreed to a deal brokered by Russia and Egypt in Cairo.

The exact area covered by the deal remains unclear, but Islamist rebel groups control a pocket of three villages – Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem – adjacent to ISIS-held territory south of the capital. The three villages have been under total or partial siege since 2013. An estimated 42,500 civilians are still living there.

The Syrian government did not sign the deal. According to Mohammed Alloush, the political leader of Jaish al-Islam, his group is party to the agreement, along with Jaish al-Ababil and Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis, linked to the Palestinian Hamas group.

Turkey Expands In Northern Syria: On Saturday, a new batch of Turkish troops and armored vehicles arrived on the Turkish side of the Syria border ahead of the second phase of deployment in northern Syria, according to Reuters.

Ibrahim al-Idlibi, a military adviser in the Free Syrian Army, told Reuters that “nearly 200 troops are now stationed in areas that separate territory under control of Kurdish groups and opposition groups.” Citing unidentified witnesses, Reuters added that Turkish bulldozers were working “around the clock,” setting up observation posts and digging fortifications.

The Speaker of Syria’s People’s Assembly Hammouda Sabbagh said on Sunday: “The people’s assembly condemns the Turkish flagrant aggression on the Syrian territory in Idlib province, which constitutes a blatant aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and a flagrant violation of international law and norms.”

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GOVERNMENT & PRO-GOVERNMENT FORCES

Syria Studying Proposal to Amend Nationality Law

The Damascus-based Syrian Law Journal discusses a proposal under review to amend the Syrian Nationality Law and grant Syrian women the right to pass their nationality on to their foreign husbands.

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SOLUTIONS

How Syrian Civil Defense Is Alerting Civilians of Potential Airstrikes

The Syrian Civil Defense has developed a warning system to help civilians evade airstrikes. Powered by a network of spotters, the online platform sends minute-by-minute alerts of potential target zones after a warplane is seen taking off.

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Community Insight

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DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Turkey’s Operation in Idlib May Not Bring All-Out War With al-Qaida

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Hashem Osseiran,  The deputy managing editor of Syria Deeply.

Turkey’s discussions with al-Qaida-linked militants ahead of its deployment in Syria’s Idlib province indicate that a wide-scale offensive against the militant group may not be Ankara’s primary objective, according to Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Despite Impressions, Syrian Violence Still Raging in Some Areas: ICRC

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Hashem Osseiran,  The deputy managing editor of Syria Deeply.

Syria Deeply spoke with Pawel Krzysiek of the International Committee of the Red Cross about the recent escalation in violence in the country – the worst since the battle for Aleppo in 2016.

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DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Deeply Talks: Syria’s Border with Jordan

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Hashem Osseiran, Alessandria Masi, Kim Bode

As Syrian and Jordanian officials ponder reopening the Nassib border crossing, Syria Deeply talks with Sam Heller of the Century Foundation about the sticking points and possible negotiations.

FIRST LOOK

Upcoming coverage

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Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies: Majority of Syrian Victims Were Killed by US-Led Coalition’s Airstrikes and Russia’s Airstrikes During Jan-17 to Sep-17

Introduction and Background

Throughout March 15th, 2011 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 151,269 casualties. 79% of those killed were civilians accumulating to 119,434 civilian victims. The remaining 21% belonged to one of the fighting factions. The number of documented children during the indicated period is 16,793 Children victims at a rate of 11% of the total victims. The documented number of women casualties is 11,786 at a rate of 8% of the total victims.

In September, 2014, the US-Led Coalition began its airstrikes assaults to eliminate ISIS’s spread in Syria. In addition, the Russian Federation intervened in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the Syrian regime in September, 2015. To this day, both the US-Led Coalition and Russian air force continue their indiscriminate airstrikes across Syria causing collateral damage of civilian casualties as this report indicates.

Number of Casualties Killed by US-Led Coalition’s Airstrikes and Russia’s Airstrikes Since They Began Attacks in Syria:

Throughout September, 2014 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 2,282 casualties killed by the US-Led Coalition Airstrikes. Additionally, throughout September, 2015 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 7,163 casualties killed by Russia’s airstrikes. The following chart indicates the number of victims killed by US-Led Coalition strikes and Russia’s strikes per month:


Number of Casualties Killed by US-Led Coalition’s Airstrikes and Russia’s Airstrikes Per Month During January, 2017 to the End of September, 2017:

Throughout January 01, 2017 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 1,481 casualties killed by the US-Led Coalition Airstrikes. Additionally, throughout January 01, 2017 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 904 casualties killed by Russia’s airstrikes. The following chart/table indicates the number of victims killed by US-Led Coalition strikes and Russia’s strikes per month. Correlation analysis of victims killed by US-Led Coalition’s strikes, and Russia’s strikes per month during January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 using the correlation coefficient formula: (r) =[ nΣxy – (Σx)(Σy) / Sqrt([nΣx2 – (Σx)2][nΣy2 – (Σy)2])] for two data sets resulted in r = -1. Subsequently the negative correlation coefficient demonstrates that for each month, if the number of victims killed by the US-Led Coalition strikes for that specific month increased, the number of the victims killed by Russia’s strikes decreased, and the vice versa is correct.


Number of Casualties Killed by US-Led Coalition’s Airstrikes and Russia’s Airstrikes Per Province During January, 2017 to the End of September, 2017:

The following chart shows the correlation between the number of victims killed per province by both; the US-Led Coalition airstrikes and Russia’s strikes, during January, 2017 till September, 2017. Using the correlation coefficient formula: (r) =[ nΣxy – (Σx)(Σy) / Sqrt([nΣx2 – (Σx)2][nΣy2 – (Σy)2])] for two data sets resulted in r = -0.160557222. Subsequently the negative correlation coefficient demonstrates that for each province, if the number of victims killed by the US-Led Coalition strikes for that specific province increased, the number of the victims killed by Russia’s strikes for that specific province decreased, and the vice versa is correct.

US-Led Coalition Strikes Casualties’ Analysis for the Period Jan, 2017 to Sep, 2017:

The following chart shows the number of victims killed by US-Led Coaltition airstrikes for the period January, 2017 to the end of the September, 2017, totalling to 1,481 victims.

Findings:

The chart presents the following indications:

  • An increase in the number of casualties towards the Beginning of Mar, 2017 and ending in August, 2017.
  • Casualties equal or greater than 100 were recorded in the following months: March 2017, April 2017, and May 2017, June 2017, July 2017, and August, 2017.
  • Casualties equal or greater than 200 were recorded in the following months: May 2017, June 2017, July 2017, August, 2017.

The below chart / table details the number of casualties killed by US-Led Coalition per Syrian provinces sorted descending. Only 9 provinces recorded causalities and they are: Ar-Raqqa, Der Ezzor, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Damascus & Suburbs, Al-Hasaka, and Daraa.

Findings:

The chart presents the following indications:

  • During Jan,17 to Sep, 2017, Ar-Raqqa province recorded the highest number of casualties killed by US-Led Coalition’s airstrikes accumulating to 1101 victims.
  • During the same period, the second province with the highest number of casualties was Der Ezzor with 227 victims.
  • DCHRS is unable to retrieve accurate count on casualties from ISIS combatants, terrorist groups, extremist factions, Syrian regime soldiers, or Assad’s allies, thus most of the documented victims were civilians with ratio of 99%.

Russia’s Strikes Casualties’ Analysis for the Period Jan, 2017 to Sep, 2017:

The following chart shows the number of victims killed by Russia’s airstrikes for the period January, 2017 to the end of the September, 2017, totaling to 904 victims.

Findings:

The chart presents the following indications:

  • An increase in the number of casualties towards the beginning of Jan, 2017 and ending in April, 2017. The number raises again during Sep, 2017.
  • Casualties equal or greater than 100 were recorded in the following months: Jan 2017, Feb 2017, March, 2017, April, 2017, and Sep 2017.
  • Casualties equal or greater than 200 were recorded in April, 2017.
 
The below chart details the number of casualties killed by Russia’s airstrikes per Syrian provinces, sorted descending. Only 8 provinces recorded causalities and they are: Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus & Suburbs, Der Ezzor, Ar-Raqqa, Homs, and Daraa.

Findings:

The chart presents the following indications:

  • During Jan,17 to Sep, 2017, Idlib province recorded the highest number of casualties killed by Russia’s airstrikes accumulating to 250 victims.
  • During the same period, the second province with the highest number of casualties was Hama with 186 victims.
  • DCHRS is unable to retrieve accurate count on casualties from ISIS combatants, terrorist groups, extremist factions, Syrian regime soldiers, or Assad’s allies, thus most of the documented victims were civilians with ratio of 99%.

Ratio of Victims Killed Out of Total Number of Casualties During Period Jan, 2017 to Sep, 2017:

Throughout January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017, DCHRS documented a total of 1,481 casualties killed by the US-Led Coalition Airstrikes. In addition, throughout January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017, the DCHRS documented a total of 904 casualties killed by Russia’s airstrikes. The remaining number is 4,705 for victims who were killed by other reasons of death. When dividing the above numbers by the total number of casualties documented during the same period, January, 2017 to the end of September, 2017, a ratio of 21% is victims killed by US-Led Col strikes, and a ratio of 13% is victims killed by Russia’s strikes. Whilst the 66% is casualties killed by different means or reasons of death. Therefore, from every 100 persons killed in Syria, 21 are killed by US-Led Coalition’s strikes, and 13 by Russia’s airstrikes.


Based on the above statistics and charts, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) calls the international community to terminate the indiscriminate aggression of aerial aviation, which is designed specifically to target civilians deliberately. DCHRS condemns the constant aerial bombardment of the regime air forces, Russian air forces, and the US-Led Coalition’s forces for perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian civilians. DCHRS calls upon the US-Led Coalition Forces and the Russian Federation to target and aim precisely due to the loss of large number of civilians, who were killed as collateral damage. DCHRS commends any efforts or initiatives to establish a safe zone in Syria, which shall save many lives of civilians. Furthermore, Also, DCHRS denounces the continues failure of the UN Security Council to achieve mechanisms to end violence in Syria, and to account crime perpetrators to justice. Additionally, DCHRS urges the UN and the international community to implement the ceasefire agreement, the de-escalation zones agreement, and to create a no-fly zone that could prevent the deaths of many children, women, and civilians.

 

DCHRS, inspired by its main mission in documenting and monitoring human rights violation in Syria and as a member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), urges all the concerned organization to work on, referring the cases of these massacres, and the many other massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime, to the I.C.C. and the specialized courts, holding the individuals responsible for these crimes accountable.

مقدمة وخلفية

مع بداية الثورة السورية وسقوط أول شهيد، بدأ مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان برنامج التوثيق وتسجيل الضحايا والمراقبة وجمع الأدلة. حيث و وَثقَّ مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان في الفترة الممتدة بين 15 أذار – مارس من العام 2011م حتى تاريخ 30 من شهر سبتمبر/أيلول من العام 2017م، ما مجموعه  151,269  ضحية، تم تسجيلهم بالاسم الثلاثي والثنائي، قرابة 79 % منهم كانوا مدنيين وعددهم 119,434 مدني، من بينهم وثق المركز 16,793 شهيداً من فئة الأطفال بنسبة قدرها 11%، و 11,786 امرأة من فئة النساء بنسبة قدرها 8% من العدد الكلي للقتلى، بلغت النسبة المتبقية وهي60% توثيق ما يقارب 88,913 رجلاً من فئة المدنيين.

في سبتمبر/أيلول 2014، بدأ التحالف الدولي بقيادة الولايات المتحدة هجماته الجوية للقضاء على انتشار تنظيم داعش في سوريا. وبالإضافة إلى ذلك، تدخل الاتحاد الروسي في النزاع السوري نيابة عن النظام السوري في سبتمبر/أيلول 2015. وحتى يومنا هذا، يواصل التحالف والقوات الجوية الروسية ضرباتهم الجوية العشوائية في أرجاء سوريا مما تسبب في خسائر للكثير من أرواح المدنيين كما يفصل هذا التقرير.

 

عدد القتلى الذين قتلوا جراء غارات التحالف الدولي والغارات الجوية الروسية:

خلال الفترة من أيلول / سبتمبر 2014 إلى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر2017، وثق مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان ما مجموعه 2,282 ضحية جلّهم من المدنيين، قتلوا جراء الغارات الجوية التي تقودها قوات التحالف الدولي .

بالإضافة إلى ذلك، قام مركز دمشق خلال شهر أيلول / سبتمبر 2015 وحتى 31 أيار/مايو 2017 بتوثيق ما مجموعه 7,163 ضحية قتلتوا بسبب الغارات الجوية الروسية.

ويبين الرسم البياني التالي عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا بسبب ضربات التحالف بقيادة الولايات المتحدة وضربات روسيا خلال الفترة المذكورة أعلاه:

عند تحليل الترابط بين أعداد الضحايا الذين قتلوا بقصف التحالف الدولي وقصف الطيران الروسي بكل شهر خلال الفترة من 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، وباستخدام معادلة معاملات الارتباط Correlation Coefficients، فإن معامل الارتباط r = -1، مما يعني أن معامل الارتباط سالب، أي أنه ارتباط عكسي تام، وبالتالي فكلما زاد عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا في شهر معين على يد قصف التحالف الدولي، فإن ضحايا القصف الروسي يقل بشكل ملحوظ أو تام، والعكس صحيح، كلما زاد عدد ضحايا القصف الروسي بشهر، فإن ضحايا التحالف الدولي لذاك الشهر تحديداً يقل بشكل ملحوظ.

عدد القتلى الذين قتلوا جراء غارات التحالف الدولي والغارات الجوية الروسية لكل محافظة سورية منذ بدء يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى نهاية أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017:

عند تحليل الترابط بين أعداد الضحايا الذين قتلوا بقصف التحالف الدولي وقصف الطيران الروسي بكل محافظة سورية خلال الفترة من 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، وباستخدام معادلة معاملات الإرتباط Correlation Coefficients فإن معامل الإرتباط r = -0.160557222 ، مما يعني أن معامل الإرتباط سالب، أي أنه ارتباط عكسي أقل من متوسط ، وبالتالي فكلما زاد عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا في محافظة معينة على يد قصف التحالف الدولي، فإن ضحايا القصف الروسي يقل بشكل ملحوظ ولكن أقل من متوسط، والعكس صحيح، كلما زاد عدد ضحايا القصف الروسي بمحافظة سورية ما، فإن ضحايا التحالف الدولي لذات المحافظة تحديداً يقل بشكل جزئي.


تحليل إصابات غارات التحالف الدولي بقيادة الولايات المتحدة خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017

يبين الرسم البياني التالي عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا جراء الغارات الجوية التي شنتها الولايات المتحدة خلال الفترة من من 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017 والذين عددهم يقارب 1,481 ضحية.

ويعرض الرسم البياني المؤشرات التالية:

  • زيادة في عدد الإصابات منذ بداية من شهر مارس/آذار 2017 وحتى نهاية أغسطس/آب 2017.
  • سُجلت إصابات تساوي أو تزيد عن 100 حالة في الأشهر التالية: من بداية آذار/مارس 2017، وحتى نهاية أغسطس/آب 2017.
  • سُجلت إصابات تساوي أو تزيد عن 200 حالة في الأشهر التالية: من بداية مايو/أيار 2017 وحتى نهاية أغسطس/آب 2017.




يوضح الرسم البياني أدناه عدد الضحايا الذين قتلهم التحالف بقيادة الولايات المتحدة خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، لكل محافظة سورية، مرتبين نازليا في 9 محافظات فقط وهم: الرقة، دير الزور، حمص، حلب، إدلب، حماة، دمشق وريفها، الحسكة، درعا، ويعرض الرسم البياني المؤشرات التالية:

  • خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، تصدرت الرقة قوائم الشهداء الذين قضوا على يد غارات التحالف الدولي، وهم 1101 ضحية، وتلتها محافظة دير الزور ب 277 ضحية.
  • لا یستطیع المرکز أن يورد أعداد وأسماء القتلى من عناصر داعش أو أي جماعة إرهابية، ولا يستطيع توثيق جنود النظام السوري وحلفائه، فبالتالي فإن غالبية الضحايا الموثقين ونسبتهم 99% هم من فئة المدنیین.

تحليل إصابات الغارات الجوية الروسية بكل شهر خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017

يبين الرسم البياني التالي عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا بسبب الغارات الجوية الروسية للفترة من خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017 وعددهم يقارب 904 ضحية.

ويعرض الرسم البياني المؤشرات التالية:

  • زيادة في عدد الإصابات خلال الأشهر من بداية يناير/ كانون لعام 2017 وحتى نهاية إبريل / نيسان 2017، يعود الرقم للزايدة خلال شهر سبتمبر/أيلول لعام 2017.
  • سُجلت إصابات تساوي أو تزيد عن 100 حالة في عام 2017 خلال الأشهر التالية: يناير/كانون الثاني، فبراير/شباط، مارس/آذار، إبريل/نيسان لعام 2017، وعاد ليزيد خلال شهر سبتمبر/أيلول لعام 2017.
  • سُجلت إصابات تساوي أو تزيد عن 200 حالة خلال شهر إبريل/نيسان لعام 2017.

يوضح الرسم البياني أدناه عدد الضحايا الذين قتلوا بسبب الضربات الجوية الروسية خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، لكل محافظة سورية، مرتبة تنازليا في 8 محافظات وهم: إدلب، حماة، حلب، دمشق وريفها، دير الزور، الرقة، حمص، ودرعا، ، حيث يعرض الرسم البياني المؤشرات التالية:

  • خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، تصدرت محافظة إدلب قوائم الضحايا ب 250 ضحية، تلتها محافظة حماة ب 186 ضحية.
  • لا یستطیع المرکز أن يورد أعداد وأسماء القتلى من عناصر داعش أو أي جماعة إرهابية، ولا يستطيع توثيق جنود النظام السوري وحلفائه، فبالتالي فإن غالبية الضحايا الموثقين ونسبتهم 99% هم من فئة المدنیین.

نسبة ضحايا القصف الروسي وقصف التحالف الدولي من إجمالي عدد الضحايا خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017

خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، وثق المركز ما مجموعه 1,481 شخصا قتلوا جراء الغارات الجوية للتحالف الدولي، وبالإضافة إلى ذلك، وثق المركز خلال نفس الفترة ما مجموعه 904 شخصا قتلوا جراء الغارات الجوية الروسية.

وعند تقسيم الأرقام المذكورة أعلاه إلى إجمالي عدد الضحايا الذين وثقوا خلال الفترة خلال 01 شهر يناير / كانون الثاني 2017 وحتى 30 أيلول / سبتمبر لعام 2017، يتبين أن نسبة 21 ٪ هي ضحايا قتلوا من قبل ضربات التحالف بقيادة الولايات المتحدة، ونسبة 13 ٪ هي ضحايا قتلوا بسبب الضربات الروسية، والبقية 66% هي نسبة الضحية الذين قتلوا بطرق أو أسباب آخرى. لذلك، من كل 100 شخص قتلوا في سوريا هناك 21 شخص يقتلون على يد غارات التحالف بقيادة الولايات المتحدة، و 13 آخرون يلقون حتفهم من الغارات الجوية الروسية.

بناء على ما تقدم من إحصائيات، فإن مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان يناشد المجتمع الدولي بوضع حد للعدوان العشوائي المتمثل بالطيران الجوي الذي صمم خصيصاً ليستهدف المدنيين حيث بات يوقع في صفوفهم على نحو يومي ضحايا مستمرين. ويشير المركز إلى أن مبادرات إقامة منطقة آمنة في سوريا ستقي الكثير من أرواح المدنيين، كما يستنكر مركز دمشق قصف قوات النظام المدعومة بغطاء جوي روسي وقصف قوات التحالف الدولي لارتكابهم جرائم ضد الإنسانية وجرائم حرب عجز مجلس الأمن الدولي عن ردعها عبر إيجاد آلية ما للجم العنف والقتل الذي لم يتوقف ليوم واحد منذ بداية الثورة السورية وحتى نهاية شهر مايو/أيار من العام 2017، حيث تشهد الإحصاءات المذكورة أعلاه، ب 151,269 ضحية 79% منهم مدنيون.
وباعتبار مركز دمشق عضو في التحالف الدولي من أجل تطبيق مبدأ مسؤولية الحماية (ICRtoP)، يطالب المركز أيضاً بالسعي الحثيث لتحقيق العدالة الانتقالية في سوريا، عبر ضمان الإنصاف لكل الضحايا الأبرياء وإعلاء مبدأ المساءلة وعدم الإفلات من العقاب.

 

كما يعود المركز ليدعو مجلس الأمن الدولي والمنظمات ذات الصلة للاضطلاع بمسؤولياتهم وفقاً لمبادئ مسؤولية الحماية (R2P)، وعدم الوقوف موقف المتفرج على ما يحصل من انتهاكات في سوريا أضحت تطال البشر والحجر معاً.


Throughout March 15th, 2011 to September 30, 2017, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) documented a provisional total of 151,269 casualties. 79% of those killed were civilians accumulating to 119,434 civilian victims. The remaining 21% belonged to one of the fighting factions. The number of documented children during the indicated period is 16,793 Children victims at a rate of 11% of the total victims. The documented number of women casualties is 11,786 at a rate of 8% of the total victims.

The total number of combatants that DCHRS documented is approximately 31,835 casualties with a ratio of 21% of the total number of victims. Nevertheless, 19% is the ratio of women and children combined. Therefore, for every soldier killed, a child or a woman is killed, and about more than three civilians are also killed.

 

Based on the above statistics and charts, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) calls the international community to terminate the indiscriminate aggression of aerial aviation, which is designed specifically to target civilians deliberately. DCHRS commends any efforts or initiatives to establish a safe zone in Syria, which shall save many lives of civilians. Furthermore, DCHRS condemns the constant aerial bombardment of the regime air forces, Russian air forces, and the U.S led coalition forces, for perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian Civilians. Also, DCHRS denounces the continues failure of the UN Security Council to achieve mechanisms to end violence in Syria, and to account crime perpetrators to justice. Additionally, DCHRS urges the UN and the international community to further implement the “Ceasefire” agreement, the “de-escalation zone” agreement, and to create a no-fly zone that could prevent the deaths of many children, women, and civilians.

 

DCHRS, inspired by its main mission in documenting and monitoring human rights violation in Syria and as a member of the  International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), urges all the concerned organization to work on, referring the cases of these massacres, and the many other massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime, to the I.C.C. and the specialized courts, holding the individuals responsible for these crimes accountable including Bashar Al-Assad as he is the chief-in-command of the army and the armed forces.

وَثقَّ مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان في الفترة الممتدة بين 15 أذار – مارس من العام 2011م حتى تاريخ 30 من شهر سبتمبر/أيلول من العام 2017م، ما مجموعه 151,269 ضحية، تم تسجيلهم بالاسم الثلاثي والثنائي، قرابة 79 % منهم كانوا مدنيين وعددهم 119,434 مدني، من بينهم وثق المركز 16,793 شهيداً من فئة الأطفال بنسبة قدرها 11%، و 11,786 امرأة من فئة النساء بنسبة قدرها 8% من العدد الكلي للقتلى، بلغت النسبة المتبقية وهي 60% توثيق ما يقارب 88,913 رجلاً من فئة المدنيين.

بلغ مجموع القتلى من العسكريين وفق الأرقام التي تمكن المركز من توثيقها ما يقارب 31,835  شخص. شكل العسكريون نسبة 21% من مجموع الضحايا الكلي، وهذا عدد يقارب مجموع عدد النساء والأطفال معاً ونسبتهم 19%، وبالتالي من كل عسكري يقتل، هناك طفل أو امرأة تقتل، و3 رجال من فئة المدنيين يلقون حتفهم.

 

بناء على ما تقدم من إحصائيات، فإن مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان يناشد المجتمع الدولي بوضع حد للعدوان العشوائي المتمثل بالطيران الجوي الذي صمم خصيصاً ليستهدف المدنيين حيث بات يوقع في صفوفهم على نحو يومي ضحايا مستمرين. ويشير المركز إلى أن مبادرات إقامة منطقة آمنة في سوريا ستقي الكثير من أرواح المدنيين، كما ينكر مركز دمشق قصف قوات النظام المدعومة بغطاء جوي روسي وقصف قوات التحالف الدولي لارتكابهم جرائم ضد الإنسانية وجرائم حرب عجز مجلس الأمن الدولي عن ردعها عبر إيجاد آلية ما للجم العنف والقتل الذي لم يتوقف ليوم واحد منذ بداية الثورة السورية وحتى نهاية شهر سبتمبر/أيلول من العام 2017 حيث تشهد الإحصاءات المذكورة أعلاه، بـ 151,269 ضحية 79% منهم مدنيون.

 

وباعتبار مركز دمشق عضو في التحالف الدولي من أجل تطبيق مبدأ مسؤولية الحماية (ICRtoP)، يطالب مركز دمشق أيضاً بالسعي الحثيث لتحقيق العدالة الانتقالية في سوريا، عبر ضمان الإنصاف لكل الضحايا الأبرياء وإعلاء مبدأ المساءلة وعدم الإفلات من العقاب.

 

كما يعود المركز ليدعو مجلس الأمن الدولي والمنظمات ذات الصلة للاضطلاع بمسؤولياتهم وفقاً لمبادئ مسؤولية الحماية (R2P)، وعدم الوقوف موقف المتفرج على ما يحصل من انتهاكات في سوريا أضحت تطال البشر والحجر معاً.

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Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Team Syria’s Success Highlights Deep Fractures in Society

SJAC Update | October 9, 2017
Team Syria (right) enters Hang Jebat Stadium in Malaysia for their October 5 World Cup qualifying match against Australia | Credit: ESPN

Team Syria’s Success Highlights Deep Fractures in Society

On October 10, the Syrian Arab Republic national football team – “Team Syria” – will compete in its second match against Australia at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium to qualify for its first ever World Cup tournament. Syria’s surprising rise to the World Cup qualifiers has aroused conflicting emotions among Syrians and has allowed the Assad government to project an image of a united and robust nation on the world stage. Yet beneath this carefully crafted facade remains a team and a population deeply controlled by the Syrian government – which considers unwavering political support as a prerequisite to membership. In order to truly foster unity and reconciliation in Syria, however, every citizen must be afforded the right and opportunity to belong, irrespective of political inclinations. But in Syria, football is a microcosm of the challenges to overcoming societal divides and achieving nationwide reconciliation.

While millions of Syrians were elated by Team Syria’s unexpected success throughout the qualifying rounds, the occasion left many others conflicted and disillusioned. On social media, some Syrians even posted that they would rather root for the opposing team than support Team Syria. The chilled response was largely due to the frustration over the team’s de facto leadership: the Assad government, which has leveraged the appeal of sports players in Syria to manipulate public opinion and quell dissent.

Rules of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) state that member associations must be independent and avoid any political interferenceYet, during the conflict, players have been compelled to march in pro-Assad rallies, wear T-shirts bearing the president’s image, and make pro-government statements to the press. Criticism of the government is strictly prohibited among athletes, and those who defy this unwritten rule have been reportedly killed, forcibly disappeared, or tortured to death. Reports also suggest several national team players have been compelled to play against their will by government threats to harm detained family members or loved ones.

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Syria Deeply: Turkey enters Idlib, battling ISIS in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, and a new report of sarin gas in northern Syria

Syria Deeply
Oct. 9th, 2017
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of the crisis in Syria.

As part of our new Deeply Talks series, on October 10, Syria Deeply will host a 30-minute conversation with Sam Heller of the Century Foundation about the situation along Syria’s frontier with Jordan and the possibility of the border crossing between the two states reopening. To RSVP and to receive dial-in instructions, click here. If you’d like to ask our editors or guest a question, please email it to our community editor Kim Bode (kim@newsdeeply.com).

Turkey Enters Idlib: Turkish troops moved into Idlib province on Sunday in an effort to enforce a de-escalation zone in the province dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants, according to a Turkish military statement released Monday.

Turkish forces were deployed to carry out “reconnaissance activities” in the area, including the creation of “observation points” in the northwestern province, according to the Associated Press.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the “serious” military operation in Idlib on Saturday, adding that Turkish-backed Syrian rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army are leading the campaign. The following day, Erdogan said Turkish troops would also be deployed in the province to support opposition forces.

On Saturday, bulldozers dismantled border walls to allow for the passage of military vehicles. Reuters reported on Sunday that al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militants escorted Turkish forces who are part of a military reconnaissance team to the area, where they “scouted” ahead of a planned deployment.

Battles Against ISIS: Pro-government forces allegedly encircled the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in the city of al-Mayadeen on Sunday, as U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prepare to launch the final stage of the battle against ISIS in Raqqa.

“Units of our armed forces with the allied forces continue their advance on a number of fronts and axes in Deir al-Zor [Ezzor] and its countryside … and encircle Daesh terrorists in the city of al-Mayadin,” an unnamed military source told Reuters, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Losing al-Mayadeen, which is on the western banks of the Euphrates river, would be a big blow to the militant group.

Pro-government forces advanced to within 7 miles (10km) of al-Mayadeen last week, and by Friday reportedly entered the militants stronghold and seized control of several buildings with support from Russian airstrikes, according to AFP. However, on Sunday ISIS militants repelled pro-regime advances.

In Raqqa, the SDF has captured around 90 percent of the city and is advancing from the city’s north and east in an attempt to close in on ISIS militants holed up in a pocket of territory near the city center.

If the forces advancing from the north link up with those moving in from the east, then the SDF can begin its final push in Raqqa, which will focus on areas around Raqqa’s national hospital, the nearby football stadium and surrounding residential neighborhoods, an SDF commander told AFP.

New Report of Sarin Attack: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has collected evidence that sarin nerve agent was used in an attack on the rebel-held village of Latamneh in northern Syria, just five days before the major chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

“Analysis of samples collected (by the OPCW) … relates to an incident that took place again in the northern part of Syria on the 30th of March this year,” Ahmet Uzumcu, the head of the OPCW, said in an interview with AFP. “The results prove the existence of sarin.”

The attack allegedly wounded 50 people, he said, adding that there were no immediate reports of any deaths. These findings disprove the claim that the April attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, which killed at least 87 people, was the first time sarin had been used since the 2013 gas attack on the suburbs of Damascus.

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To Rebuild Syria, Civil Society Must Thrive

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Sidelining Syrian civil society groups in plans for rebuilding the country may lay the groundwork for future violence and unrest, writes activist and development practitioner Rouba Mhaissen.

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Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Flipboard (Reuters): Syria Fighting Worst since Aleppo, Air Strikes Deadly – Aid Agencies

Syria fighting worst since Aleppo, air strikes deadly: aid agencies

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria is in the throes of its worst fighting since the battle for eastern Aleppo last year, with heavy air strikes causing hundreds of civilian casualties, aid agencies said on Thursday.

Hospitals, schools and people fleeing violence have been “targeted by direct air strikes” that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said, without apportioning blame.

Russia and a U.S.-led coalition are carrying out separate air strikes in Syria ostensibly aimed at defeating Islamic State militants.

“September was the deadliest month of 2017 for civilians with daily reports of attacks on residential areas resulting in hundreds of conflict-related deaths and injuries,” U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said in a statement.

Air strikes killed dozens this week in Raqqa, where 8,000 people remain trapped, and at least 149 people, mostly women and children, in residential areas of rebel-dominated Idlib province in Syria’s northwest in the last 12 days of September, he said.

Explosions in Damascus killed 20 people and civilian casualties were also reported in rural areas around the Syrian capital and in Hama, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor, Moumtzis said, again without saying who was responsible.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement that up to 10 hospitals were reported to have been damaged in the past 10 days.

“We have seen a number of hospitals being targeted, we got very worrying reports and converging reports about hospitals, schools, civilian infrastructure being targeted,” Robert Mardini, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters in an interview in his Geneva office.

“And of course this is outrageous, unacceptable,” he said, adding that damage to Sham hospital in Idlib alone had cut off half a million people from access to health care.

The ICRC voiced alarm that violence was occurring in many of the “de-escalation” areas including Idlib, rural Hama and eastern Ghouta. “Taken together, these are the worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo in 2016,” it said.

“Hundreds of civilians killed is certainly a very conservative figure,” Mardini said. “We see a very strong correlation between the escalation and the intensification in the fighting on one hand and the human cost of this conflict, the attacks on health facilities and civilian infrastructure.”

Syria’s six-year-old civil war pits President Bashar al-Assad’s government supported by Russia and Iran against a myriad number of rebel factions, some Western-backed, and Islamist militant groups.

Military jets believed to be Russian killed at least 60 civilians trying to flee heavy fighting in the oil-rich Deir al-Zor province when their small boats were targeted as they sought to cross the Euphrates River, opposition activists, former residents and a war monitor said late on Wednesday.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria has carried out air strikes that have also caused civilian casualties, which it says it goes to great lengths to avoid.

“The point here is not to point fingers,” Mardini said, declining to identify suspected perpetrators of deadly strikes.

“What should be non-negotiable is the respect for the laws of war, everywhere in Syria. This is absolutely critical today.”

(Additional reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Mark Heinrich)

I am Syria: Death Tolls – October 2017

912 Civilians Killed in October 2017

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The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) recently published a report detailing the  death tolls in Syria throughout September 2017, with a total of 8115 deaths in 2017 thus far. The total deaths included 912 civilian victims, the majority of which were at the hands of Syrian Regime and Russian Forces.

Russian Forces were the largest perpetrator of civilian deaths, with a total of 498 civilians, including 101 children and 83 women throughout the month of September. The second largest portion of civilian casualties were at the hands of Russian Forces, with a total of 207 civilians, including 45 women and 31 children. This is a significant increase of deaths at the hands of Russian forces compared to previous months.

The de-escalation agreement of May 2017 is still in effect in the four established zones of the Idlib governate, nothern Homs, Eastern Ghouta and parts of Daraa and al Quneitra. In May 2017, Russia, USA and Jordan also announced a ceasefire agreement for southwestern Syria including the Daraa, Quneitra and Suwayda governates. Markets have become more active in these areas, and some infrastructure has been restored.

The cessations does continue to show a deescalation in killings within the agreed upon areas. However, the Syrian Regime continues to breech the agreements, and continuing deaths by torture within Syria. In addition, Russia has breeched deescalation agreements this month, after previous months of low death tolls.

The death tolls perpetrated by International coalition forces is also noteworthy. The report shows that these forces killed at least 104 civilians this month, including 29 children and 21 women. 

It is also important to note that a total of 41 civilians have either drowned or died in bombings trying to flee Syria. The forces of these killing couldn’t be determined, but are assumed to be by neighboring country forces.

Death Tolls: 
-Government forces: 229
– Russian forces: 11
– ISIS: 107
– Armed opposition factions: 13
– International Coalition forces: 285
– Other Parties: 73
– Kurdish Forces: 54

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: At the UN, governments and civil society meet to build a foundation for justice in Syria

SJAC Update | October 5, 2017
IIIM Head Catherine Marchi-Uhel speaks to attendees at a UN panel to discuss support for the Mechanism | Photo from UN Web TV

At the UN, governments and civil society meet to build a foundation for justice in Syria

On September 21, proponents of the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to investigate serious crimes in Syria gathered on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting to discuss developments in the effort to end impunity in Syria and to galvanize international support for the Mechanism. In attendance were representatives from UN Member States, Syrian civil society, and the new IIIM Head Catherine Marchi-Uhel. The speakers emphasized the urgent need for States to lend national support to the IIIM, underscored the Mechanism’s responsibility to foster relations with civil society organizations and the Syrian public, and urged increased General Assembly leadership in the creation and funding of human rights mechanisms and tribunals. SJAC reiterates its support for the Mechanism and its leadership while calling upon all parties to continue supporting its mission financially, politically, and through cooperation between their judicial systems and IIIM investigators.

The meeting afforded State representatives a platform to pledge or reaffirm financial contributions to the IIIM. While early estimates set the IIIM’s annual operating cost at $13 million, expenditures are now expected to be higher. Over 30 countries have already pledged contributions, but funding still falls short of the $13 million threshold. And as representatives from Liechtenstein and The Netherlands noted, the IIIM still has not garnered contributions for its second year of operations (during the event the Dutch Foreign Minister was the first to pledge funds for year two). Until the UN integrates IIIM funding into its regular operational budget, the Mechanism will be financed entirely by Member States’ voluntary contributions. UN regular budget financing is critical to the long-term survival of the Mechanism and should be approved expeditiously.

The meeting also highlighted the need for individual States to adjust their national codes in order to facilitate close cooperation with the IIIM. Because the IIIM does not have any prosecutorial powers on its own, its investigators must submit case files to prosecutors in national jurisdictions. Thus, States may need to adopt certain legal or procedural measures to ensure they can contribute data to the Mechanism and accept cases prepared by the IIIM in their respective jurisdictions. In the past, several states adopted such measures in order to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Liechtenstein was the first State to announce it would adjust its national codes in preparation for work with the IIIM. Others must follow in order to guarantee that the Mechanism’s material is most efficiently and effectively utilized.

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

This email was sent to dmcrane@law.syr.edu
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Syria Deeply: Airstrikes in Idlib, Russia’s two-year anniversary in Syria and al-Julani appointed head of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham

Syria Deeply
Oct. 2nd, 2017
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of the crisis in Syria.

As part of our Deeply Talks series, Syria Deeply will host a 30-minute conversation with Sam Heller of the Century Foundation. Join us on October 10 as we discuss the situation along Syria’s frontier with Jordan and the possibility of the border crossing between the two states reopening.

To RSVP and to receive dial-in instructions click here. If you’d like to ask our editors or guest a question, email it to our community editor Kim Bode (kim@newsdeeply.com).

Airstrikes In Idlib: Russian and Syrian warplanes have increased airstrikes on the northwestern province of Idlib, killing dozens of civilians in the course of the past week despite the area being one of four designated de-escalation zones.

Airstrikes on Saturday in the Idlib town of Amanaz, just a few miles from Turkey’s southern border, killed at least 34 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. As of last Thursday, the Civil Defense had already “pulled 152 bodies and … rescued 279 civilians since the Russian and regime bombing campaign,” Salem Abu al-Azem, a senior rescue worker with the group in Idlib told Reuters.

At least four hospitals were also hit in the recent aerial bombardments in Idlib and north of Hama province, and at least two others evacuated “out of fear of being bombed,” according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Russia’s defense ministry said its airstrikes in Idlib province targeted only militant groups and not civilians. Moscow’s statement also said that one of its airstrikes killed five senior members of the al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in southern Idlib, including “the leader of the group’s unit in south Idlib province, a financial chief, and an adviser to one of the group’s ideologues, Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini.”

Documenting Death Tolls: September was the deadliest month in Syria so far this year. The month also closed with the second anniversary of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict.

SOHR documented the death of 3,055 people in Syria last month, including 955 civilians (of which 207 were children and 148 were women). At least 395 civilians, including 92 children and 71 women were killed in Syrian or Russian air raids. U.S.-led coalition warplanes killed at least 282 civilians, including 68 children and 45 women. Rebel clashes and shelling killed at least 17 civilians, HTS forces killed at least 4 civilians and the Syrian Democratic Forces killed at least 7 civilians.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights released a report claiming that Russian forces have killed 5,233 civilians, including 1,417 children and 886 women since September 30, 2015. The report also accused Russia of using cluster munitions more than 200 times, the majority in Idlib province, and using incendiary ammunitions more than 100 times, the majority in Aleppo province.

HTS Appoints New Leader: A statement circulated on social media over the weekend allegedly from the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance claiming that the group’s leader, Abu Jaber al-Shaykh, resigned and that Abu Muhammad al-Julani was appointed as his interim replacement.

Al-Julani previously led Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s former branch in Syria. He was then a commander in Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), a group formed when Nusra publicly separated from al-Qaida. When JFS merged with other factions to form HTS, al-Julani was appointed as a military commander.

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FIRST LOOK

Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.