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Syria

    October 14, 2018
    Disappointing Pentagon communiqué spurns liability for civilian casualties Coalition strikes destroyed 80% of Raqqa, killing hundreds of civilians Ongoing Amnesty International investigation reveals evidence of dozens of new civilian victims

    The US-led Coalition’s ongoing failure to admit to, let alone adequately investigate, the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction it caused in Raqqa is a slap in the face for survivors trying to rebuild their lives and their city, said Amnesty International a year after the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    October 12, 2018

    On his return from a field visit to Raqqa in Syria, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General Kumi Naidoo has described the horrific destruction and utter human devastation he witnessed, one year after the end of the battle in which the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) used massive firepower to drive the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) out of the city.

    “What I saw in Raqqa shocked me to my core. The city is a shell – bombed-out buildings, very little running water or electricity, the stench of death hanging in the air. That anyone is still able to live there defies logic and stands as testimony to the remarkable resilience of the city’s civilians,” he said.

    “Attacks by the US-led coalition not only killed hundreds of civilians but also displaced tens of thousands, who are now returning to a city in ruins, while many others languish in camps.”

    September 14, 2018

    The Syrian government, backed by Russia, has intensified unlawful attacks on civilians in Idlib using internationally banned cluster munitions and unguided barrel bombs in a prelude to a widely anticipated military offensive, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 13 attacks were reported to have taken place between 7 and 10 September in the southern part of Idlib governorate. The bombardments, which targeted the villages of al-Tah, Jerjanaz, al-Habeet, Hass, Abadeen as well as the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun, killed 14 civilians and injured 35 more.

    “The Syrian government has routinely used banned cluster munitions and barrel bombs across Syria to inflict terrible harm and suffering on civilians. Now, they have started duplicating these horrific tactics in Idlib and we don’t have any reason to believe that they will stop,” said Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.

    August 07, 2018

    After Amnesty International research prompted the US-led military Coalition to admit to killing dozens of civilians in its Raqqa offensive, the Coalition must urgently launch thorough, independent investigations to uncover the full scale of civilian deaths and compensate the victims and survivors.

    On 26 July the Coalition acknowledged that its aerial bombardments between June and October 2017 killed 77 civilians, including 24 children and 25 women – specific cases documented by Amnesty International’s field investigations in Raqqa. The Coalition had previously brushed off these cases as “non-credible” and senior officials had derided Amnesty International’s research as “naïve” and “reckless” in the media and other public forums. 

    June 08, 2018

    Responding to reports that Russian aircraft carried out an attack in Idlib province last night, killing at least 44 people, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This outrageous attack, the deadliest in Idlib so far this year, targeted the village of Zardana overnight while people were breaking the Ramadan fast. Among those killed were at least six children, and the death toll is expected to rise as the wounded succumb to their injuries. Deliberately attacking civilians violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime.

    “We are deeply troubled by reports that this was a ‘double-tap’ strike, in which aircraft follow up on an initial attack with a second strike which generally hits rescue workers and others coming to the aid of casualties. These cruel attacks have happened time and again in Syria, and demonstrate utter disregard for the lives of civilians and for fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.

    June 05, 2018
    Amnesty International carried out field investigations in the destroyed city US-led Coalition fired vast number of imprecise explosive weapons in populated civilian areas Even Coalition precision bombs took a horrendous toll on civilians Hundreds of civilians killed and then ‘Islamic State’ fighters allowed to leave

    From amid the rubble of Raqqa, civilians are asking why US-led Coalition forces destroyed the city, killing hundreds of civilians in the process of “liberating” them from the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS), Amnesty International said in a new report ahead of the offensive’s anniversary.

    Amnesty International researchers visited 42 Coalition air strike sites across the ruined city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the carnage and lost loved ones.

    May 18, 2018

    A harsh new property law implemented by the Syrian government effectively deprives thousands of people displaced by the ongoing conflict of their homes and lands and potentially destroys evidence of war crimes it has committed, Amnesty International said today.

    Passed in 2012, Legislative Decree 66 allows the Syrian government to demolish informal settlement areas in Damascus and Damascus Countryside to convert them into urban development zones with residential blocks, markets and public spaces. Under the new regulations passed in Law 10 in 2018, once a development zone has been designated, the authorities must publicly notify home and land owners, who have only 30 days to assemble the necessary paperwork and claim their property.

    April 24, 2018

    By Sam Dubberley, Manager of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps

    There are photographs and videos of so many of them. Talmenes, Al-lataminah, Kafr Zita, Khan Sheikhoun; all chemical weapons attacks in Syria. They have been documented and verified, but rarely have they been so central to how states publicly justify their policies.

    April 16, 2018

    Responding to news that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have still not been granted access by the Syrian authorities to the site in Douma where 75 people were killed last week following a suspected chemical weapons attack by government forces, Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York said:

    “The OPCW team must be granted full and unfettered access to the site in Douma without further delay. Their investigation is crucial in uncovering the exact circumstances behind the appalling images that united the world in horror this month. Every day that passes without access makes it harder for them to collect and analyse vital evidence.

    “The use of chemical weapons against civilians is prohibited by international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party. Deliberately targeting civilians with this illegal weapon is a war crime.

    April 13, 2018
    Douma, woman and child

    In recent days, several governments, including the UK’s, the USA’s and France’s, have signalled their intention to take military action against the Syrian government, which they hold responsible for the recent suspected chemical weapons attacks in Douma.

    It’s important to remember the context here. For the past seven years, the international community’s catastrophic failure to take meaningful action to protect the people of Syria has allowed various parties to this terrible conflict, most notably pro-Assad forces, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with the assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia.

    Complying with international law

    UN Security Council resolutions have been repeatedly flouted and ignored by both Bashar al-Assad’s government and other belligerents. Widespread frustration with the ineffectiveness and failure of this international body’s inability to protect Syrian civilians is totally understandable.

    April 10, 2018

    The last few days have seen the deaths of dozens of Syrian civilians in what appears to be yet another sickening chemical attack – almost two years to the day since a shockingly similar attack took place, which claimed the lives of an entire family.

    Once again, the world watched on horrified as footage emerged over the weekend of children and adults struggling to breath, and others who had already lost their fight to survive.

    "I lost consciousness. I couldn't breathe any more; it was like my lungs were shutting down." https://t.co/DQtvWnB1uE

    — Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 9, 2018

    March 23, 2018

    Responding to reports that an alleged Russian air strike using an incendiary weapon burned to death 37 civilians – mainly women and children – hiding in an air-raid shelter in the Syrian town of Arbin on Friday, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Senior Advisor Rawya Rageh said:

    “We have previously documented how the use of incendiary weapons is burning alive civilians who are literally left with nowhere to hide. This attack would appear to be the latest horrific example in that pattern.

    “In areas besieged by the Syrian government such as Daraya and elsewhere, civilians told us what particularly struck fear into their hearts during the final period of the siege before they were forced out was the use of incendiary weapons.

    “Many told us they stopped going down to shelters for fear of being burned alive. Those fears seem especially poignant today in light of this latest horrifying loss of life.”

    According to Russian state media, Russia's Ministry of Defence denied responsibility for the attack.

    Further reading

    March 15, 2018

    To mark the seventh anniversary of the Syria conflict, Amnesty International is calling for the international community to assume its responsibilities and urgently act to end the suffering of millions of Syrians and bring an end to the bloody assault on besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin.

    “The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director.  

    March 02, 2018

    “The situation in Eastern Ghouta is worse than words can say...We live in a rich area a few kilometers away from the capital where everything is available, while children here are dying of malnutrition." A pediatrician,speaking on 16 February 2018

    Escalation of Attacks

    The Syrian government and its ally Russia have escalated a bombing campaign in Eastern Ghouta, an area in the Damascus Countryside home to 400,000 civilians. The attacks have left scores dead and hundreds injured this past month. This comes after six years of a cruel siege where Syrians have been trapped in a daily barrage of attacks to deliberately kill and maim them. The relentless bombing of Eastern Ghouta constitutes a flagrant war crime.

    February 28, 2018

    Reacting to a New York Times article alleging that an unpublished United Nations report reveals that from 2012 to 2017 North Korea secretly shipped supplies to Syria that could be used to produce internationally banned chemical weapons, Lynn Malouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said:



    “Supplying any state with the means to produce these horrific weapons is utterly deplorable. But to help the Syrian government – which has repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians – replenish its supplies would be a particularly egregious betrayal of humanity.



    “The UN should publish its report. If the report is accurate, it would represent an ominous marker of how far the crimes and violations committed by the Syrian government have eroded respect for long-established prohibitions.



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