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Syria

    December 13, 2016

    Shocking reports from the UN that scores of civilians have been extrajudicially executed by advancing Syrian government forces in eastern Aleppo point to apparent war crimes, said Amnesty International. The organization is making an urgent plea for all parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population.

    The UN human rights office said it had reliable evidence that up to 82 civilians were shot on the spot by government and allied forces who entered their homes, or at gunpoint in the streets, over the past few hours. 

    “The reports that civilians - including children - are being massacred in cold blood in their homes by Syrian government forces are deeply shocking but not unexpected, given their conduct to date. Such extrajudicial executions would amount to war crimes,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional office.  

    December 01, 2016

    The UN Security Council has failed Syrians. In almost six years of conflict, close to half a million people have been killed and eleven million have been forced to leave their homes. Most recently, the Syrian and Russian governments and their allies have carried out unlawful attacks on eastern Aleppo with scant regard for some 250,000 civilians trapped there. Armed opposition groups have also fired mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo, though according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by Government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” Efforts to stop these atrocities and hold those responsible to account have been blocked repeatedly by Russia, which continues to misuse its veto power in the Security Council.

    November 28, 2016

    Syrian government forces who have captured parts of eastern Aleppo city in recent days must ensure that civilians living in these areas are allowed to move freely and are protected from revenge attacks including arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance or harassment, said Amnesty International today.

    Yesterday Syrian government forces took control of two neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, Jabal Badro and Maskaen Hanano, where at least 100 families are currently living. Many who remain in eastern Aleppo city told Amnesty International that they fear acts of revenge by government forces.

    “Syrian government forces have repeatedly launched unlawful attacks on Aleppo city displaying a callous disregard for the safety of civilians living in parts of the city controlled by armed opposition groups,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional office. 

    November 23, 2016

    Ahead of a visit to Moscow by the incoming United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on 24 and 25 November, Jane Connors, Amnesty International’s Director of International Advocacy said:

    “The incoming Secretary-General must ensure the UN system intensifies its scrutiny of Russia’s responsibility for violations of international law in the conflict in Syria.

    “António Guterres must use this visit to press the Russian authorities to end unlawful attacks in Syria – including the pattern of airstrikes that appear deliberately to target hospitals and medical facilities in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. He also must call on the Russian authorities to stop assisting Syrian government forces and their allies to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “Russia should use its influence to ensure Syrian authorities end unlawful attacks on civilians, release arbitrarily detained people, end the use of torture and enforced disappearance and allow unfettered humanitarian access.

    November 04, 2016

    Spokespeople available for interview

    Fears for the safety of civilians in eastern and western Aleppo city are mounting amid the looming threat of a resumption and possible escalation of fighting and bombardment by Syrian government forces with Russian support, and non-state armed groups once a humanitarian pause comes to an end later today, said Amnesty International today.

    Media reports indicate that a fleet of Russian warships have made their way to Latakia on the Syrian coast in recent days indicating that Syrian and Russian forces are preparing a final bloody assault to seize control of the city.

    “Even in times of wars, there are fundamental rules that all parties must obey. Civilians must never be deliberately targeted. And armed forces must never indiscriminately bombard populated areas.  Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have systematically violated international humanitarian law in eastern Aleppo and throughout Syria, unlawfully killing tens of thousands of civilians. And armed opposition groups have indiscriminately bombarded civilian areas in in western Aleppo and elsewhere. ”

    October 31, 2016

    The fierce offensive on western Aleppo city launched by armed opposition groups on 28 October has been marked by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas that cannot be justified as a way to break the relentless siege that has sparked a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo, Amnesty International said.

    Up to 48 people including 17 children have been killed in civilian areas of government-controlled western Aleppo since the offensive began, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. 

    “The goal of breaking the siege on eastern Aleppo does not give armed opposition groups a license to flout the rules of international humanitarian law by bombarding civilian neighbourhoods in government-held areas without distinction,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to reports that a flotilla of Russian warships destined for Syria is considering refuelling at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, Samah Hadid, Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, said:

    “Neither Spain nor any other country should refuel or provide any other logistical support to Russian warships en route to Syria, given the substantial risk that these ships will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    October 26, 2016

    US-led Coalition forces carrying out air strikes in Syria must conduct thorough investigations into reports of civilian casualties from its operations and disclose their findings, said Amnesty International. Eleven Coalition attacks examined by the organization appear to have killed some 300 civilians during two years of strikes targeting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    So far the US authorities have provided no response to a memorandum Amnesty International sent to the US Department of Defense on 28 September 2016 to raise questions about the conduct of Coalition forces in Syria. The memorandum compiles and analyzes information from various sources, including eyewitnesses to attacks, which suggests that US Central Command (CENTCOM), which directs Coalition forces in Syria, may have failed to take necessary precautions to spare civilians and carried out unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.

    “We fear the US-led Coalition is significantly underestimating the harm caused to civilians in its operations in Syria,” said Lynn Maalouf Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 19, 2016

    The UN General Assembly (UNGA) must step in to fill the void left by the UN Security Council members’ catastrophic failure to end relentless attacks targeting the civilian population in eastern Aleppo city, said Amnesty International ahead of a UNGA meeting later today.

    The organization has released new satellite imagery illustrating the scale of destruction, as well as testimony from civilians trapped in the city, providing evidence that Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have callously attacked residential homes, medical facilities, schools, markets and mosques as part of a deliberate military strategy to empty the city of its inhabitants and seize control. In some cases there is evidence that Russian-made cluster munitions were used in attacks.

    October 10, 2016

    Reports about the resumption of humanitarian aid to 75,000 refugees stranded in a remote, arid area along the Jordanian-Syrian border called “the berm” are a long-awaited glimmer of hope that should be followed by a sustainable, long-term solution, Amnesty International said today.

    The news comes as the UN and the Jordanian authorities continue negotiations to open a humanitarian lifeline to the Syrians who have been stranded there since the Jordanian authorities sealed the border following an armed attack in June. Since then the refugees have endured hellish conditions with no aid except one delivery, made by crane in August.

    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.

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