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Syria

    October 04, 2016

    Syria should immediately release the Human Rights Lawyer Khalil Ma’touq and his assistant, Mohamed Thatha, 31 human rights organizations said today, on the fourth anniversary of their enforced disappearance.

    On October 2, 2012, the two men are believed to have been arrested at a government-operated checkpoint on their way from Ma’touq’s home in the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya to his office in Damascus.  Despite repeated requests for information to the public prosecutor’s office in Damascus in 2012 and 2013 by family and colleagues, Syrian authorities have denied that they arrested the men.

    Despite these denials, individuals released from the government’s custody in 2015 have informed Ma’touq’s family that while in detention they spotted him in various government-operated detention facilities, including State Security Branch 285 and Military Intelligence Branch 235 in Damascus. Since then, the family has not received any information on his whereabouts. 

    September 20, 2016

    Last night’s attack on a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy, intended for 78,000 people in Aleppo, is a flagrant violation of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    Witnesses in Syria have told the organization that the convoy, along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse where it had docked, were bombed intensively for two hours on Monday evening, heightening the suspicion that Syrian government forces deliberately targeted the relief operation.

    “A sustained attack on a humanitarian convoy and workers, horrific enough in any circumstances, will in this case also have a disastrous impact not only on those desperate civilians for whom the assistance was intended, but for life-saving humanitarian operations throughout Syria,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 07, 2016
    By Monica Costa Riba

    Strapped onto either side of a horse, 30 year-old Alan Mohammad and his 28 year-old sister Gyan crossed craggy mountains from Iraq and into Turkey last February. Their younger sister walked ahead, leading the horse. Their mother, brother and younger sister trailed behind, pushing heavy wheelchairs up the steep unpaved path.

    August 22, 2016

    By Gauri van Gulik

    The horrific situation facing Syria’s children, graphically captured by the haunting image of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, shocked and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble of his home, makes it easy to understand why parents would take their children on the desperate, arduous journey to Europe.

    But if a child like Omran were to survive the trip and reach Europe’s shores, their ordeal would be far from over.

    On a visit to the Greek island of Lesvos, I saw first-hand what awaits them.

    In a detention centre on Lesvos I met Ahmed, a one-year-old baby who has been sick for almost all of his short life from what his mother described as a chemical attack. She told me that a bomb destroyed their home soon after Ahmed was born, lodging shrapnel in his neck. Soon after, he developed severe asthma and other symptoms consistent with chlorine gas inhalation. When I met him almost a year after the bombing, I could see his scars and his little body struggled to breathe.

    August 18, 2016

    Researchers from the Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University of London have worked with survivors from Syria’s most notorious prison to build a digital reconstruction of the unmonitored and unphotographed facility, allowing us to see inside for the first time.

    Visit saydnaya.amnesty.org to explore the digital reconstruction of Saydnaya

    Since 2011 thousands have died in Syria’s prisons and detention facilities. With anyone perceived to be opposed to the Syrian government at risk, tens of thousands of people have been tortured and ill-treated, in violation of international law.

    In April 2016, Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture travelled to Istanbul to meet five survivors from Saydnaya Prison, near Damascus. In recent years, no journalists or monitoring groups which report publicly have been able to visit the prison or speak with prisoners.

    As there are no images of Saydnaya the researchers were dependent on the memories of survivors to recreate what is happening inside.

    August 18, 2016

    Peaceful activist Hussam (not his real name) survived 20 months in Saydnaya, one of Syria’s most brutal prisons. Now held elsewhere, he wrote this letter in an attempt to describe the “daily hell” he experienced.

    To whomever it may concern:

    What I tell you is not fiction or a request for sympathy.

    From our dark basements hidden from the sun, we raise our voices and search for an echo. We call you to halt the bleeding of life from the young men and women of Syria. Halt the fire that consumes their youth in the prisons and detention centres of President al-Assad.

    They do not belong here. They are not born just to be a piece of paper in the hands of al-Assad and his dictatorial regime, or timber in the fire which he burns with hatred and lust for revenge – just because we dreamed of a dignified nation that safeguards our rights.

    August 17, 2016

    The horrifying experiences of detainees subjected to rampant torture and other ill-treatment in Syrian prisons are laid bare in a damning new report published by Amnesty International today which estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011 – an average rate of more than 300 deaths each week.

    ‘It breaks the human’: Torture, disease and death in Syria’s prisons documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. It retraces the experiences of thousands of detainees through the cases of 65 torture survivors who described appalling abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saydnaya Military Prison, on the outskirts of Damascus. Most said they had witnessed prisoners dying in custody and some described being held in cells alongside dead bodies.

    August 14, 2016

    A 10-year-old Syrian girl seriously wounded by sniper fire from a Syrian government forces checkpoint in Madaya was successfully evacuated last night for urgent surgery following international pressure, Amnesty International can confirm.

    According to the Syrian Red Crescent, Ghina Ahmad Wadi and her mother were escorted from the besieged town to Damascus overnight last night. The move follows appeals by the girl’s UK-based aunt, supported by Amnesty International and others.

    “This is clearly a very welcome move that could prove to be a lifeline for Ghina, a brave young girl who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is appalling that she was left to suffer for days on end before being granted this vital reprieve,” said Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “Amnesty International has information about many other civilians in Madaya who are critically ill or injured – in some cases for up to two months – and in need of urgent medical attention immediately.

    August 12, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for Russia, the USA and the United Nations to arrange the humanitarian evacuation of a badly-injured ten-year-old girl from the Syrian town of Madaya, which is besieged by Syrian government forces.

    The girl, Ghina Ahmad Wadi, was shot in the leg by a sniper on 2 August at the Abdel Majed checkpoint when she was on her way to buy medicine for her mother. She was shot in her left thigh, causing a complex bone fracture and a severing of a nerve. Her eight-year-old sister who was with her was also injured.

    Madaya is controlled by Syrian government forces in alliance with Hezbollah fighters, and Ghina’s family have appealed to the Syrian authorities to allow her to be evacuated to a hospital in Damascus or in Lebanon - a request which has been denied, including in the past week.

    A doctor working at a field hospital in Madaya has told Amnesty that the girl urgently needs surgery that is not available in Madaya, which has been under a tight government siege since July last year. Instead, Ghina has only been provided with sedatives - including morphine - which ease her extreme pain for only ten to 15 minutes at a time.

    August 11, 2016

    The Syrian city of Aleppo has been hit by a suspected chlorine attack, which would amount to a war crime if confirmed, and constitutes an alarming sign that Syrian government forces are intensifying their use of chemical weapons against civilians, Amnesty International said Thursday.

    The attack on a residential neighbourhood in a part of Aleppo controlled by armed groups is the third reported use of chemical weapons in northern Syria in just two weeks and has reportedly killed at least four people. Amnesty International has confirmed at least 60 others, mostly children, sought medical care after showing symptoms characteristic of a chlorine attack.

    “This attack in Aleppo is yet another flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and signals a distressing pattern in the use of chemical weapons by regime forces,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    The latest attack comes as Russia announced a three-hour daily ceasefire on the city, as humanitarian aid is desperately needed in some areas.

    July 29, 2016

    An aerial attack which struck and partially destroyed a maternity hospital in rural Idlib province, north-western Syria, this afternoon appears to be part of a despicable pattern of unlawful attacks deliberately targeting medical facilities, Amnesty International said.

    The number of casualties in today’s attack is not yet clear, but a spokesperson from Save the Children, which supports the hospital, told media there were at least two fatalities. It is unclear who carried out the attack, but it was in an area under the control of armed groups where Syrian and Russian armed forces had been launching airstrikes.

    July 28, 2016

    Unfettered and impartial humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of thousands of civilians in Aleppo city on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies, said Amnesty International today.  

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    July 20, 2016

    A video showing the beheading of a boy by an armed opposition group in northern Syria is the latest abhorrent signal that some such groups are carrying out serious abuses with impunity, said Amnesty International.

    The video, believed to be filmed near Aleppo, shows a man standing on the back of a truck carrying out an execution-style killing of a boy. 

    “This horrific video showing the beheading of a boy suggests some members of armed groups have truly plumbed the depths of depravity. It is yet another gruesome example of the summary killing of captives, which amounts to a war crime,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    July 19, 2016

    US-led coalition forces carrying out airstrikes in Syria must redouble efforts to prevent civilian deaths and investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International urged amid growing reports that scores of men, women and children were killed in their homes in al-Tukhar village, near Manbij, on 18 July.

    Since June, more than 100 civilians are reported to have been killed in suspected coalition attacks on the Manbij area of northern Syria, which has been controlled by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    “The bombing of al-Tukhar may have resulted in the largest loss of civilian life by coalition operations in Syria. There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needles loss of civilian life. Anyone responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice and victims and their families should receive full reparation,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    July 04, 2016

    Armed groups operating in Aleppo, Idleb and surrounding areas in the north of Syria have carried out a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing ‘Torture was my punishment’: Abductions, torture and summary killings under armed group rule in Aleppo and Idleb, Syria offers a rare glimpse of what life is really like in areas under the control of armed opposition groups. Some of them are believed to have the support of governments such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA despite evidence that they are committing violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war). It also sheds light on the administrative and quasi-judicial institutions set up by armed groups to govern in these areas.

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