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Syria

    January 11, 2019

    Reacting to today’s statement by the US-led Coalition that it has begun “the process of deliberate withdrawal” from Syria, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “It is deplorable that the US-led Coalition continues to ignore its responsibility of carrying out any meaningful investigations into the hundreds of civilian deaths it caused in Raqqa and elsewhere – even as it starts to withdraw from Syria.

    “The Coalition is unashamedly ignoring the devastating legacy of its bombing campaign, adding insult to injury by making clear that it has no intention of offering survivors any form of remedy or compensation.  

    “Amnesty International has been to Raqqa multiple times since the battle ended. Not a single one of the hundreds of survivors we’ve spoken to on the ground has even been contacted by the Coalition – let alone received any assistance – as they try to rebuild their lives.

    November 20, 2018

    Thousands of digital activists around the world will take part in an innovative new crowdsourcing data project Amnesty International is launching today, which uses satellite imagery to help plot how the US-led military coalition’s bombings destroyed almost 80% of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

    “Strike Tracker” is the next phase of an in-depth Amnesty International investigation, in partnership with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian casualties resulting from four months of US, UK and French bombardment to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from Raqqa.

    Amnesty International’s field investigations and analysis since the battle ended in October 2017 presented compelling evidence of apparent violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by the US-led Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise its civilian death toll statistics upwards from 23 to more than 100 – a 300% increase.

    October 22, 2018

    By Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    This month I was in Raqqa – my first time in Syria amid one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts in decades. I witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by the US-led coalition’s relentless bombardment during a four-month battle that ended a year ago this week. Today, residents are still digging corpses from the rubble and the stench of death hangs heavy in the air.

    Walking around, I saw how entire city blocks had been levelled by Coalition air and artillery strikes aimed at ousting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground, US, UK and French forces carried out thousands of air strikes. US military officials boasted about lobbing 30,000 artillery rounds into the city – the most fired by a US battalion anywhere since the Vietnam War.

    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.

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