Geneva - The Syrian regime’s bombing of IDP camps in the country’s northwest region may amount to a war crime, said Euro-Med Monitor in a statement today. Euro-Med Monitor stressed the urgent need to hold perpetrators, as well as all others responsible for the ongoing human rights violations in Syria, accountable.
According to Euro-Med Monitor, Syrian regime forces targeted at least six adjacent camps west of Idlib city with cluster bombs, most likely through the use of rocket launchers stationed at positions in the city’s southern countryside. This attack coincided with a series of air raids launched on various areas west of Idlib by both Syrian and Russian warplanes.
The bombing of the IDP camps did not appear to be random, but rather a deliberate attempt to inflict heavy losses—human and material—among the displaced, as the camps were bombed simultaneously and in a concentrated manner. Furthermore, the use of cluster munition indicates a clear intention to broaden the targeting area, in order to harm the greatest possible number of people and housing units in the camps.
According to a statement issued by members of the Syrian Civil Defence working in the area, the bombing killed nine civilians, including a woman and two children, and injured approximately 70 others. Syrian and Russian forces used artillery and air strikes to target sites in the eastern, western, and southern countrysides of Idlib, as well as the western countrysides of Hama and Aleppo.
Syrian and Russian forces’ repeated targeting of IDP camps in northern Syria indicates that this practice has become an organised policy reflective of the Syrian government’s collective punishment strategy against civilians in areas controlled by the armed opposition. Euro-Med Monitor stressed that civilians should never be targeted, even if they are in areas outside the control of the Syrian government.
Anas Jerjawi, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “The areas to which the displaced fled, believing they would be safer, were also the sites of their deaths. For countries that have begun deporting Syrian refugees, there is no better evidence that Syria is still a dangerous place to live and settle.
“Russian forces’ bombing of civilians in Syria should have the same consequences as their bombing of civilians in Ukraine. The international community should demonstrate greater moral commitment to the victims in Syria, and exert pressure on Russia to end its participation in the atrocities perpetrated against civilians there”, Jerjawi added.
More than 870 Syrians have been killed and hundreds more injured since the beginning of this year, mostly at the hands of the Syrian regime as a result of ongoing military operations in various parts of the country, and including deaths due to torture in prisons.
The attacks on IDP camps coincide with the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria. Nearly 1.7 million IDPs are living in over 1,400 camps in northwest Syria under difficult humanitarian conditions, with the majority of individuals relying on food aid provided by international relief agencies to survive.
The Syrian government and Russian forces must stop targeting civilians and civilian objects in Syria immediately and permanently, and adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law in this regard. Additionally, the international community must activate and support all forms of international accountability for human rights violations in Syria since 2011, particularly the principle of universal jurisdiction, and support the work of the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism in Syria to achieve justice for victims and prevent impunity.