Tuesday 26 June 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: More than 135 Syrians killed today
The number of civilian martyrs documented by the SOHR in Syria (Tuesday 26/6/2012), documentation includes name and reason of death, has risen to 87.
-In Homs province 7 civilians were killed.3 were killed in the Alkhaldieh neighborhood, one of them was killed by bombardments on the neighborhood, the other 2 were killed by earlier wounds caused by mortar shells. A civilian was shot by regime forces in the Jobar neighborhood. A young man was killed by bombardments on A’z Aldin in Homs. 2 civilians were killed by mortar shells on the city of Alrastan.
-In Deir Izzor province 8 civilians were killed. A child and 4 civilians were killed by bombardments on several neighborhoods in the city. 3 civilians were killed by bombardments on the Mouhasan city that regime forces have been
trying to take control of.
-In reef Dimashq province 28 civilians were killed.11 were killed in the suburbs of Kudsaya that witnessed clashes today between armed opposition groups and regime forces. 15 were killed by bombardments on the Alhameh town. A civilian was killed in the city of Douma, and a child was martyred in the city of Harasta.
-In Dimashq province 2 civilian were killed. A child was shot by regime forces in Kafersuseh, and a civilian was shot by sniper fire when he was at work in the Jobar neighborhood that witnessed clashes.
-In Aleppo province 4 civilians were killed. 2 were killed in the Albab city,reef Aleppo. One of them died under torture after being detained for 4 days, the other was shot by regime forces. A young man died of wounds received earlier from gun shots on a protest in the Salah Aldeen neighborhood. A civilian was shot by regime forces when they targeted his car near the Daret I’zeh town.
-In Idlib province 20 civilians were killed. 2 were killed by mortar shells on the Sarakeb town. 5 were killed in Khan Alsubul town, one of hem is a fighter who was killed during clashes, 4 including a child were killed by bombardments on the town. A young girl was killed in Ma’aret Alnu’man by bombardments. A cvilian was killed under torture after being detained for several days. 8 civilians, including a child and 2 women, were killed in Jabal Alzawieh by bombardments on the town of Deir Senbol and the Bsames village. A young man was killed in Jarjanez town, reef idlib under unknown circumstances.
- In Hama province 3 civilians were killed. A civilian from the A’kreb town, reef Hama, was found dead after being kidnapped by armed regime supporters 2 days ago. An armed opposition group leader was killed in the town of Souran during clashes. A young man died of wounds he received yesterday when he was shot by one of the military checkpoints in reef Hama.
-In Dera’a 15 civilians were killed. 8, including 2 fighters, were killed by mortar shells and gun shots in the Kafer Shams town that witnessed clashes. 3 were killed in the town of A’tman that’s under bombardments and is witnessing a military operation. A civilian was killed by wounds he received from bombardments on the Kafer Shams town. A civilian was killed by bombardments on the town of Alkarak, reef Dera’a. 2 civilians were killed by bombardments and gun shots in the town of Inkhel.
- A defected captain was killed during clashes in reef Hama. A lieutenant was killed during clashes in reef Dera’a, and a defected soldier died in reef Idlib.
- At least 46 regime forces were killed by explosions that targeted military checkpoints in the province of Idlib, and by clashes in the provinces of Idlib,Dimashq, Deir Izzor, Dera’a, reef Dimashq and Hama
ERBIL, June 26 (AKnews) – The Syrian National Council and the country’s Kurdish National Council have formed a committee to strengthen political relations and to prepare a political project for the Syrian opposition conference in Cairo next month.
Head of foreign relations for the Syrian Kurdish Council Abdul Hakim Bashar said the new committee consists of 15 people from both sides.
The committee will prepare a political project for the Syrian opposition conference on June 2.
Bashar added that the conference aims to increase international support for the Syrian revolution against President Bashar Assad
According to United Nations’ statistics, nearly 10,000 Syrians have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian spring in February 2011.
By Fryad Mohammed
[Comment: the integrity of the Cairo conference which is meant to be for everyone, may be undermined by this alliance]
[local time] 22:03 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that Syria was in a “real situation of war,” AFP reported.
21:53 The former chief of the main opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, told AFP he visited Syria for a few hours on Tuesday to “boost the morale” of rebels.
21:22 Thirteen Syrian officers who defected from the army arrived in Turkey, Al-Jazeera reported.
19:40 Defections, fighting closer to Damascus and the downing of a Turkish jet were all signs that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is losing control, the United States said Tuesday.
19:13 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Iran should be invited to an international meeting on the Syria conflict in Geneva on Saturday.
18:54 Syrian forces’ shelling of Homs’ Talbisa killed 20 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Tuesday.
18:16 Syrian security forces shelled Daraa’s towns of Atman, Kafr Shames and Al-Kark al-Sharki killing some and injuring others, Al-Jazeera reported on Tuesday.
18:11 The United Nations monitoring mission in Syria will remain suspended because of the mounting conflict, a top UN official told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
17:54 Russia on Tuesday said Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet should not be viewed as a provocation and urged all nations to tone down their rhetoric over the incident.
17:20 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has agreed to attend an international meeting on the Syria conflict in Geneva on Saturday, Russia’s UN envoy said Tuesday.
15:56 Fourteen people were killed by security forces in the district of Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Tuesday.
15:10 Rebel forces and Syrian army units engaged in deadly combat around elite Republican Guard posts in the suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday, as 58 people were killed across the country, a monitoring group said.
14:12 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria rose to 45 people, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
13:47 Three people were killed and others injured in the shelling of Daraa’s Atman and Kfar Shams, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Tuesday.
13:30 Al-Jazeera television is broadcasting live footage of funerals of people killed during the shelling of Daraa al-Balad on Monday night.
13:16 The UN said on Tuesday it had not yet received confirmation of a key Syria meeting expected to take place at its Geneva headquarters on Saturday, AFP reported.
13:00 NATO voiced its “strong support and solidarity with Turkey,” AFP quoted chief Anders Foghn Rasmussen as saying.
12:58 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Syrian regime is an “open threat” to Turkey, AFP reported.
12:57 The UN expert tasked with investigating human rights abuses in Syria has finally managed to enter the country, the UN said on Tuesday.
12:50 At least 200 soldiers defected on Tuesday from the Syrian army in Edleb, Al-Jazeera television reported.
12:48 NATO chief Anders Foghn Rasmussen said that Syria’s downing of a Turkish plane was “unacceptable,” AFP reported.
12:39 Turkey said it would reciprocate to any border violation by Syria, AFP quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying.
12:36 The Syrian security forces killed 29 people on Tuesday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
12:30 Turkey said it would retaliate with determination after its plane was downed by Syria, AFP quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying.
12:24 The downed Turkish plane violated Syrian airspace for a short time and “by mistake,” AFP quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying.
12:10 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan deemed Syria’s shooting of military jet a “heinous attack” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, AFP reported.
12:04 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of committing a “hostile act,” in a reference to the downed plane, AFP reported.
11:24 Turkey’s prime minister vowed on Tuesday to retaliate against Syria for its “heinous” downing of one of its warplanes, as the head of NATO said such an attack on one of its members was unacceptable.
11:15 The North Atlantic Council met for consultations on Tuesday on a request from Turkey following the downing of one of its fighter jets by Syria, NATO diplomats said.
11:07 Army shelling of the towns of Khan al-Sabl and Maasaran in Edleb injured a number of people, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
10:11 On Tuesday, Syrian armed rebel forces and regime army units were locked in fierce clashes around elite Republican Guard posts in the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
7:10 Turkey on Monday complained to the United Nations that the shooting down of its fighter jet by Syria was “a serious threat to peace and security” in the region, AFP reported.
7:05 The United States said Monday that the UN Security Council has been a “colossal failure” in protecting Syrian civilians and made a new demand for sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad, AFP reported.
7:00 Turkish Vice Prime Minister Bulent Arinc on Monday said the shooting down of a fighter jet by Syria was a “hostile act of the highest order” and claimed a rescue plane was also attacked, AFP reported.
BBC: Syria in state of war, says Assad [Comment: this does not absolve him of responsibility for what he is doing to the Syrian people]
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country is in “a state of war” as fierce fighting is reported in the suburbs of the capital Damascus.
Addressing his new cabinet, Mr Assad said that all efforts had to be directed towards winning the war.
Earlier, activists said fierce fighting in the suburbs of the capital Damascus had been the worst there so far.
The fresh clashes came amid heightened tensions with neighbouring Turkey over the downing of a military jet.
“We live in a real state of war from all angles,” President Assad told members of the cabinet who were sworn in on Tuesday.
“When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”
He criticised countries that have been calling for him to stand down, saying that the West “takes and never gives and this has been proven at every stage”.
He added: “We want good relations with all countries but we must know where our interests lie.”
Earlier the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fierce clashes took place near Republican Guard positions in Qadsaya and al-Hama, about 8km (5 miles) from the centre of Damascus.
Correspondents say it is rare for fighting to take place near Republican Guard bases and suggests a growing confidence among the rebels.The BBC’s Ian Pannell meets a family who are too afraid to take their wounded children to hospital video
The elite Republican Guard, led by President Assad’s younger brother Maher, is tasked with protecting the capital.
State TV confirmed the fighting but said dozens of “terrorists” had been killed and many others taken prisoner, including foreign fighters.
It said large numbers of armed rebels had moved into al-Hama and tried to take control of a main road to the west in order to bring in more arms and fighters.
The Observatory said that 10 people had been killed by shelling in Qadsaya and some 58 people had died in violence across Syria on Tuesday – 24 soldiers, 30 civilians and four rebels. The figures cannot be independently verified.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP news agency: “This is the first time that the regime has used artillery in fighting so close to the capital.
“This development is important because it’s the heaviest fighting in the area and close to the heart of the capital.”
Heavy shelling was also reported in Homs, where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) last week tried unsuccessfully to arrange the evacuation of civilians.
The ICRC said on Tuesday it was returning to the city for a fresh attempt.
On Tuesday, Turkey said the rules of engagement for its military had changed after Syria shot down a F-4 Phantom jet over the eastern Mediterranean last week.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament that if Syrian troops approached Turkey’s borders, they would be seen as a threat.Anti-government protests, like this one near Damascus, are continuing across the country
“Every military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border and representing a security risk and danger will be assessed as a military threat and will be treated as a military target,” he said.
Syria insists that the F-4 Phantom was shot down because it was inside Syrian airspace. Turkey says the plane in international airspace.
Nato, of which Turkey is a member, convened an emergency meeting of its ambassadors on Monday and afterwards expressed “strong solidarity” with Ankara.
Relations between Syria and Turkey were already highly strained before the F-4 was shot down.
In other developments on Tuesday, the head of the UN’s peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, said its monitoring mission in Syria would remain suspended because of mounting violence.
Russia said its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov would attend an international conference on Syria which special envoy Kofi Annan hopes to hold in Geneva on 30 June.
However, Moscow is insisting that Iran also be allowed to attend, a move strongly opposed by the US and its allies.
Last year, in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings, thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Syria’s cities demanding greater freedom and political reform.
The government’s response was a brutal crackdown that left hundreds dead and inspired many opposition supporters to take up arms.
In April, following months of bloodshed, the Syrian government agreed to a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
UN monitors were deployed to Syria to oversee a ceasefire, but the truce never took hold.
The main rebel fighting group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has become increasingly better organised – and armed – and is in effective control of swathes of Idlib province and parts of Aleppo province in the north.
BEIRUT – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday his country was in a state of war and ordered his newly appointed government to direct all its efforts towards vanquishing the uprising against him.
“We live in a real state of war from all angles,” Assad told a cabinet he appointed on Tuesday in a speech aired on Syrian state television. “When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”
Assad dismissed the arguments of Western countries that have been calling for him to step aside. The West “takes and never gives and this has been proven at every stage,” he said.
“We want good relations with all countries but we must know where our interests lie,” he said.
Syrian forces are accused by the United Nations of killing more than 10,000 people during a 16-month revolt that has posed the greatest threat to four decades of Assad family rule.
The president’s speech – which also included comments on the benefits of renewable energy and the strategic importance of the Syrian agriculture sector, while troops and rebels battled on the outskirts of Damascus – will be seen as an escalation of Assad’s firm rhetoric that has shown no sign of compromise.
He said Syrians would learn to support the government once it better explained its plans for political reforms.
“When we transparently communicate with citizens, the citizens will understand and support us,” he said.
“As I have always said, the problem is communicating with the citizen… When we don’t explain, the citizen does not know what their capabilities are, so the minister or the government will not be evaluated objectively.”
Assad says Syria at war as battle reaches capital | Reuters 19 hours ago – Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun ( C ) poses with Syrianfree army in Sarmada, near the Turkey-Syria border June 26, 2012.
Russia says downing of Turkish plane not provocation: MOSCOW/AMMAN – Russia said on Tuesday Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish warplane should not be seen as a provocation and warned world powers against using the incident to push for stronger action against Damascus.
It was Moscow’s first reaction to Friday’s downing of a Turkish military aircraft by Syrian air defenses, which gave a new international dimension to the worsening conflict in Syria.
Turkey’s NATO allies condemned Syria’s action as unacceptable but stopped short of threatening any military response. Turkey also plans to approach the U.N. Security Council.
“It is important that what happened is not viewed as a provocation or a premeditated action (by Syria),” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
Moscow repeated its calls for restraint, warning that any political escalation would be “extremely dangerous” and threaten international efforts to salvage a moribund six-point Syrian peace plan drawn up by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
“Once again, we call on all sides to act exclusively in the interests of such an agenda (the peace plan) and not to take steps that go beyond its limits,” the ministry said.
“We believe that the best course of action is restraint and constructive interaction between the Turkish and Syrian sides in order to clarify all the circumstances of the incident.”
Syria provides Moscow with its firmest foothold in the Middle East, buys weapons from Russia worth billions of dollars, and hosts the Russian navy’s only permanent warm water port outside the former Soviet Union.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would attend a meeting on Syria that Annan is trying to arrange on Saturday but suggested it would not produce results without the participation of Iran, a close Syrian ally.
“Iran must be present. Otherwise the circle of participants will be incomplete and will not gather everybody who has influence on all Syrian sides,” Lavrov told reporters, on the sidelines of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Jordan.
Annan has also said Iran should attend, but diplomats say the United States, Saudi Arabia and others objected to the idea.
Putin later on Tuesday also voiced support for involving Iranian officials in talks seeking an end to the violence, saying it would be “counterproductive” to neglect Syria’s neighbor in negotiations to resolve the conflict.
“The more Syria’s neighbors are involved in the process the better because almost every neighboring country has some influence on some forces inside the country,” Putin said.
“It is better to involve Iran in this conflict resolution, receive its support,” he said.
Russia has used its power of veto in the U.N. Security Council to shield Syria from harsher international sanctions over Damascus’s crackdown on the 16-month-old revolt.
Moscow has backed Annan’s plan, insisting it is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria and arguing firmly against any kind of military intervention.
So far Annan’s attempts to get the Syrian opposition and government to begin talks aimed at ending the conflict have failed, but he is pushing for a meeting of key regional players and permanent U.N. Security Council members in Geneva on Saturday, hoping to kickstart political negotiations.
(Reporting by Gleb Bryansky in Amman and Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow, editing by Andrew Heavens)
Syria too dangerous for monitors to resume operations: U.N.: UNITED NATIONS – The increasing danger in Syria makes it impossible for the U.N. observer mission, which suspended its work earlier this month, to resume full-scale operations at the moment, U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.
Iran is trying to broker a political solution in Syria: Mohammad Ataie: Iran has stood by Bashar al-Assad throughout the Syrian uprising but its leaders want to help end the bloodshed
As the international community continues to vacillate over meaningful action to stop the crisis in Syria and to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, new information concerning methods used by the authorities to crush any form of dissent continues to emerge.
Not only are protestors shot at, villages attacked and houses of activists burned, but other repressive, if less visible, tools are used to discourage anyone from showing opposition to the government.
More than 20 followers of a Damascus imam, Saria al-Refa’i – who publicly criticised violations by the government in his Friday prayer sermons – have reportedly been detained, some for more than ten months.
Among them is a Damascus doctor, Mohamed Hamzeh, a face and jaw surgeon who was arrested on 21 August last year in front of the Zaid bin Thabit al-Ansari mosque, where Saria al-Refa’i had criticised the leadership of the country in his sermons .
Earlier that month, Saria al-Refa’i had warned the Syrian leadership “that all of Syria will rise up unless the army withdraws, unless they release all the prisoners and cease hostilities”.
He added: “We do not want to hear about armed gangs” and that “the leadership is responsible for every drop of blood that is shed”.
Dr Mohamed Hamzeh was, and perhaps still is, held by Air Force Intelligence at Harasta, a suburb north-east of Damascus, without charge, although there are rumours that he has been transferred to the nearby Saydnaya Military Prison.
Amnesty International has learnt from a source close to the doctor that he has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention, including suffering a broken jaw in a beating.
The same source described him as “a kind man, a pacifist, who used to treat poor patients for little or no money”.
In further attempts to intimidate Saria al-Refa’i and his followers, the source said that a “sound bomb” – which creates a deafening noise – was detonated near the mosque, and that Saria al-Refa’i was threatened that his family would be harmed.
It is difficult to assess the extent to which this tactic of silencing dissenters by targeting their relatives or followers may be working.
There were news reports that Saria al-Refa’i had changed his tune, including by stating that protesting is “haram” (forbidden under Islamic law). However, in a videoed Friday sermon later that month he denied having said that, but rather that “protesting with arms is forbidden”.
Nevertheless, it seems that Saria al-Refa’i has been less critical in public of the Syrian authorities since his followers were targeted.
Families of individuals perceived to be opponents of the government have also been targeted by the authorities.
One family, which includes two young children and a pregnant woman, have been held incommunicado for more than a month at the Air Force Intelligence branch in al-Mezzeh, Damascus.
Mahmoud Hamada, aged 10, and Osama Hamada, aged 8, were arrested from their home in Aqraba, in the suburbs of Damascus on 15 May 2012, along with their mother Malika al-Khateeb who is six months pregnant.
According to Amnesty International’s information, they are being held in an attempt to place pressure on Said Mahmoud Hamada, the father of the two children and Malika al-Khateeb’s husband, who is wanted by the authorities, to surrender himself. As such they are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Amnesty International recently spoke to one Syrian man in Lebanon. He said the security forces captured his mother and brought her to the detention centre in which he was being held, after which he ‘confessed’ to what they wanted him to confess to, fearing that she would be harmed if he did not do so.
There are also many reports that families of members of the security forces who flee to join the opposition have been attacked, and sometimes killed in what appears to have been extrajudicial executions. .
The families of Syrian activists living abroad also have been targeted. After US-based musician Malek Jandali performed at a pro-reform demonstration in front of the White House in July, his mother and father, aged 66 and 73 respectively, were attacked in their home in Homs.
Malek told Amnesty International his parents were beaten and locked in a bathroom while their flat was looted. The men, who did not identify themselves but who his parents believe were either plain-clothes security or intelligence agents or members of the pro-governmental militias known as the shabiha, told his parents: “This is what happens when your son mocks the government.” The couple have since fled the country.
“This pattern of attacks – not only on activists themselves, but also their supporters and relatives – is yet more evidence that the Syrian government will not tolerate any dissent and is prepared to go to great lengths to muzzle those who challenge it publicly,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Anyone held by the authorities solely for the purpose of pressuring their relatives to do or not do something is in effect a hostage. They should be released immediately and unconditionally and the Syrian authorities should allow peaceful dissent instead of carrying out reprisals which in many cases amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes.”
Amnesty International is also investigating reports that relatives of members of the Syrian security forces have been killed or abducted by members of opposition armed groups which, if true, are deeply disturbing. The organization condemns without reservation serious abuses by armed groups, including attacks which target civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, torture and other ill-treatment, abduction of civilians and the killing of captives.
Syria: Detained medics tortured and killed amid Aleppo crackdown
The discovery of the charred and mutilated bodies of three young medical workers a week after their arrest in Aleppo city is yet further evidence of the Syrian government forces’ appalling disregard for the sanctity of the role of medical workers, Amnesty International said today.
All three men were students at Aleppo University – Basel Aslan and Mus’ab Barad were fourth-year medical students and Hazem Batikh was a second-year English literature student and a first-aid medic.
They were part of a team of doctors, nurses and first-aiders who have been providing life-saving medical treatment in makeshift “field hospitals” set up to treat demonstrators shot by security forces and who could not therefore go to state-run hospitals for fear of being arrested, tortured or even killed.
They had been detained by Air Force Intelligence since their arrest in the city on 17 June.
“The brutal killing of these young medics who took great personal risk to rescue and treat injured protesters is yet more evidence that Syrian government forces are prepared to commit unspeakable crimes to silence dissent,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser who recently returned from several weeks in Syria.
“As casualties from the current unrest have mounted, so President Bashar al-Assad’s government has intensified its hunt for the wounded and for those who provide life-saving emergency treatment to them.
“Such violations are part of an increasingly entrenched pattern of crimes against humanity being perpetrated with impunity by Syrian government forces.”
The three students’ burned bodies were found in the early hours of 24 June in a burned-out car in the Neirab area of Aleppo’s north-eastern outskirts.
Medical personnel who saw the bodies at the morgue told Amnesty International that Basel Aslan had a gunshot wound to the head and his hands were tied behind his back.
One leg and one arm were broken, several teeth missing and the flesh was missing from his lower legs, leaving the bone exposed. Some of his fingernails had been removed.
The bodies of the others were more heavily burned and also bore other wounds.
Amnesty International has seen images of the corpses that back up these descriptions.
The students’ identity cards and university cards were found intact alongside their bodies, indicating that they had been left there after the bodies were burned.
A fourth, charred corpse found with the men has yet to be identified.
Shortly after the three students were arrested, one of their parents called their son’s phone and an unidentified man reportedly answered, saying: “You don’t know how to raise your son. We will teach him how to behave.”
During their detention by Air Force Intelligence, their friends tried in vain to seek their release. Senior Air Force Intelligence officers – who allegedly had released detainees in exchange for bribes in the past – told their friends “to forget them”.
Crackdown in Aleppo
Security forces have routinely responded to peaceful protest demonstrations in Aleppo city by firing live rounds into the crowds and arresting and torturing known or suspected protesters and their supporters.
As more frequent and larger demonstrations have been taking place in the city in recent weeks, the security forces’ crackdown has become increasingly brutal and widespread.
In late May, an Amnesty International delegate witnessed security forces firing live rounds indiscriminately against peaceful demonstrators in Aleppo on several consecutive days, killing and injuring demonstrators and bystanders, including several children.
From the outset of the protests which began in February 2011, Syrian government forces have been targeting doctors and other medical personnel suspected of providing life-saving emergency treatment to protesters and bystanders wounded in deliberate and/or indiscriminate attacks.
Amnesty International documented such attacks in a report published last October.
Government forces and militias also systematically destroyed and burned down field hospitals and clinics in towns and villages they attacked.
“Medics and first-aiders working amid unrest and conflict take enormous risks to provide immediate life-saving care to the injured and evacuate them to safety. In Syria such risks are magnified by a government policy to target medical personnel and to exact retribution against them,” said Rovera.
“Those responsible for such gross human rights violations at the highest level of government should be warned that they will not be able to enjoy impunity for such crimes for ever.”
As early as April 2011, Amnesty International concluded that crimes against humanity were being committed amid the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters that began in March last year.
It has repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to refer the deteriorating security situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and made clear that the crimes are subject to universal jurisdiction.
“Russia must stop blocking decisive action by the UN Security Council to end the suffering in Syria,” said Donatella Rovera.
“Most importantly, it should support the transfer of the situation in Syria to the ICC.”