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Syria

    February 06, 2018

    The Syrian government’s use of internationally banned chemical weapons was laid bare once again on 4 February when a chlorine gas attack on the town of Saraqeb left 11 people in need of emergency treatment, according to testimony gathered by Amnesty International.

    The Syria Civil Defence said that barrel bombs containing chlorine gas had been dropped by helicopter and caused the casualties to gasp desperately for air, suffer severe irritation to their skin and eyes, vomit and collapse. The casualties included three Syria Civil Defence volunteers who had rushed to the scene to assist.

    “Once again, Syria’s government has shown its utter contempt for international law by deploying illegal chemical weapons,” said Lynn Malouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International.

    “Direct attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited and are war crimes. The fact that the government feels free to flagrantly carry out such attacks using internationally banned chemical weapons reflects the complete impunity enjoyed by those who order war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.”

    November 30, 2017
    Verified photographs show Soviet-made cluster munitions used over densely populated areas by Syrian government forces Doctors describe dire humanitarian situation – including widespread malnutrition – amid tightening siege Witnesses recount indiscriminate attacks killing civilians as Syrian forces commit daily war crimes

    Syrian government forces’ increasing use of banned Soviet-made cluster munitions to carry out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians amid a tightening siege in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has killed at least 10 civilians and brought the area’s humanitarian crisis to breaking point, Amnesty International can reveal today.

    The organization interviewed five people currently under siege in Eastern Ghouta, among them activists and medical professionals, who described a severely deteriorating situation as the government has escalated its bombing campaign of this rebel-held enclave, near the capital, Damascus, since 14 November.

    November 22, 2017

    Responding to news that Iran, Turkey and Russia will meet in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, while more than 30 Syrian opposition groups hold separate talks in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “As the parties to the conflict in Syria meet separately to discuss a roadmap to peace, millions of Syrian men, women and children face horrific suffering due to the violations and crimes perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.

    Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people trapped under siege throughout Syria in unbearable conditions without access to food, water or healthcare.

    November 13, 2017

    Whole civilian populations who have suffered horrific sieges and been subjected to intensive bombardments have been given no choice but to leave or die under so-called “reconciliation” agreements between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive new report published today.

    The government’s campaign of sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement, which has uprooted thousands of civilians and forced them to live in dire conditions, constitutes crimes against humanity.

    “We leave or we die”: Forced displacement under Syria’s ‘reconciliation’ agreements examines four of these local pacts and documents associated violations dating back to 2012. Reached between August 2016 and March 2017, the agreements led to the displacement of thousands of residents from six besieged areas: Daraya, eastern Aleppo city, al-Waer, Madaya, Kefraya and Foua.

    August 29, 2017
      The Syrian government and armed groups involved in the country’s conflict must disclose the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of people who have been forcibly disappeared or abducted since the onset of the crisis in 2011, said Amnesty International on the International Day of the Disappeared.   “Amid the brutality and bloodshed of the Syrian conflict, the plight of those who have vanished after being arrested by the authorities or detained by armed groups is a tragedy that has been largely ignored internationally. Tens of thousands of families have been desperately trying to uncover the fate of their missing relatives,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.   “Russia and the United States, in particular, must use their influence to pressure respectively the Syrian government and armed opposition groups to grant independent monitors access to places of detention, disclose the names and whereabouts of those deprived of their liberty, and allow all detainees to communicate with their families.”  
    August 23, 2017

    Thousands of civilians trapped in Raqqa, northern Syria, are coming under fire from all sides as the battle for control of the city enters its final stage, Amnesty International said following an in-depth investigation on the ground. The warring parties must prioritize protecting them from hostilities and creating safe ways for them to flee the frontline.

    In a report released today, the organization documents how hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured since an offensive began in June to recapture the “capital” and main stronghold of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    Survivors and witnesses told Amnesty International that they faced IS booby traps and snipers targeting anyone trying to flee, as well as a constant barrage of artillery strikes and airstrikes by the US-led coalition forces fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) armed group. At the same time, survivors recounted how Russian-backed Syrian government forces also bombarded civilians in villages and camps south of the river, including with internationally banned cluster bombs.

    August 02, 2017
      Responding to news of the execution of Syrian-Palestinian human rights activist Bassel Khartabil today, Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research said:   “We are deeply saddened and outraged at this awful news. Bassel Khartabil will always be remembered as a symbol of courage, who peacefully fought for freedom to the very end. Our thoughts are with his family.   “Bassel Khartabil’s death is a grim reminder of the horrors that take place in Syrian prisons every day. The tens of thousands of people currently locked away inside Syrian government detention facilities face torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial executions. These cruel acts undoubtedly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”  
    July 06, 2017
      The lives of millions of Syrian civilians hang in the balance as the Presidents of Russia and the USA prepare to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany on 7 July 2017, to discuss counter-terrorism initiatives and a political resolution to Syria’s war, said Amnesty International. “For civilians in Syria, decisions made by President Trump and President Putin are a matter of life and death. A continuation of present policies would have disastrous consequences for the people of Syria, who have endured unimaginable suffering for more than six years,” said Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International.   “The USA and Russia must publicly commit to protecting civilians in Syria and to ending violations by their own forces as well as by the warring parties on the ground. Both countries and their allies are responsible for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. It is time to end the bloodshed.”
    June 30, 2017

    Syrian Kurdish opposition activist Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou was released on 24 June. He had been detained by the Asayish forces since 23 May. Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou was held in poor conditions while suffering a critical heart condition.

    Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou, a 58-year-old activist and father of six, was released on 24 June from Allaya prison in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, for treatment and under the condition that he signs a written statement pledging that he will attend the court hearings when notified. Suleiman Oussou is currently receiving the medical care his condition requires and recovering at home.

    April 18, 2017

    Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, blogs from Beirut, Lebanon. Follow Salil on Twitter @SalilShetty

    At a time of extreme contestation of what constitutes truth, and an era where “fake news” is almost celebrated, the rule of law based on real evidence is more essential than ever.

    International human rights law and humanitarian law are long-established standards and norms, and are critical to be able to distinguish right from wrong.

    Human rights give us a framework to interpret and describe why what we see is wrong. And they give us a legal architecture to hold governments to account and demand change.

    And what is the alternative to addressing the massive challenges the world faces without international solidarity and accountability, without a shared commitment to uphold the equal and inalienable rights of every person?

    April 07, 2017

    In response to United States airstrikes on a Syrian army airbase in Homs, three days after a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Idlib province, Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said:

    “US forces must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and take all possible measures to protect the civilian population when carrying out military action, including by refraining from using internationally banned-weapons such as cluster munitions.

    “Recent airstrikes by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed hundreds of civilians, many of whom were women and children trapped inside their houses. 

    “The United Nations Security Council has been unable to protect civilians in Syria for the past six years. It has emboldened all parties to the conflict in Syria to commit appalling crimes with impunity.

    “It is imperative for member states to adopt a resolution that would ensure an investigation on the ground into the chemical attack that took place in Khan Sheikhoun and that would facilitate bringing perpetrators of such crimes to justice.”

    April 05, 2017

    Evidence gathered is suggesting a nerve agent was used in an air-launched chemical attack which killed more than 70 and injured hundreds of civilians in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s northern province of Idleb, Amnesty International revealed as the UN Security Council meets for an emergency meeting in New York this morning.

    The organization is urging the Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution that will enforce the prohibition of chemical weapons attacks and facilitate bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

    “Security Council members, and in particular Russia and China, have displayed callous disregard for human life in Syria by repeatedly failing to pass resolutions that would allow for punitive measures to be taken against those committing war crimes and other serious violations in Syria,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International.

    April 04, 2017

    By Syria campainger Leen Hashem

    Today, ministers and representatives of over 70 countries and humanitarian organisations are attending the “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference in Brussels. The conference focuses on gathering additional funds and assistance for Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries and discussing the reconstruction of Syria “once a genuinely inclusive political transition is firmly underway”.

    It is reassuring to see the international community come together to support Syrians who fled the violence in Syria and sought refuge in neighboring host countries. However, Syrian refugees continue to face serious challenges including restrictive access to health services, employment and protection. The international community should ensure the rights of Syrian refugees through meaningful responsibility-sharing by guaranteeing funding for refugee protection; and by significantly increasing the number of resettlement places and other admission pathways.

    March 16, 2017

    After a year trapped in Greece, this week Alan, Gyan and the rest of the family have finally travelled to Germany.  We know they arrived safely and that they are provisionally staying in a camp. We will keep you updated.

    Alan and Gyan are Kurdish refugees from Syria. They both suffer from muscular dystrophy and fled their home in Syria in wheelchairs; escaping bombs and the Islamic State. They arrived in Greece in March 2016 with their mother, Amsha and two siblings, Ivan and Shilan. Their father and another sister are already in Germany.

    Their arduous journey in search of safety had taken them and their family across four borders. They were shot at on three occasions when they were trying to cross into Turkey and were strapped to the side of a horse in order to cross the mountainous border between Iraq and Turkey.

    March 15, 2017

    "I was beaten with cables and told to kneel before a picture of Bashar Al-Assad."

    Former detainee Abu al-Najem

    Six years of crisis in Syria, which began after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, have been marred by horror and bloodshed. Parties to the conflict continued to commit human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. To date, victims have seen no justice. Syrian government forces, with the support of Russia, have attacked and bombed civilians, killing and injuring thousands; maintained lengthy sieges on civilian areas; subjected tens of thousands to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions; and systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees causing countless deaths in custody. Armed groups have indiscriminately shelled and besieged predominately civilian areas, and committed abductions, torture and summary killings.

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