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UN report: International coalition violated humanitarian law in Syria

US-coalition airstrike on Syria's Raqqa on 9 March 2017 [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights]
US-coalition airstrike on Syria's Raqqa on 9 March 2017 [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, File photo]

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria has accused the international coalition led by the United States of violating international humanitarian law during its operations against Daesh in Syria.

The commission's latest report said the coalition's operations against Daesh in Raqqa and Deir al-Zour had a "high price" for civilians, adding that even before the operation began to liberate al-Raqqa, the international coalition has failed to take all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian sites when it launched an airstrike on Mansoura district, which killed at least 150 displaced persons, including women and children.

The report pointed out that Daesh has used the civilians in Raqqa as human shields after the coalition forces besieged them and thus violating international humanitarian law.

According to the report the coalition operations against Daesh resulted in one of the largest waves of displacement since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were displaced from Raqqa and Deir al-Zour to northern Syria.

The commission said the Syrian Democratic Forces are holding some 80,000 displaced people to investigate their possible links to Daesh organization.

"The total detention of all the people displaced from al-Raqqa and Deir al-Zour can not be justified" said commission member Karen Abu Zeid.

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Abu Zeid added that this detention increases the suffering of the displaced and called to allow all those wishing to leave the camps to do so. The report said the Syrian Democratic Forces violations of international law includes forced recruitment, including the recruitment of children. According to the report, all parties to the conflict in Syria have targeted civilian sites, including places of worship, homes and centers for civil defence and medical facilities, markets, bakeries and schools.

The commission accused the Russian air force of launching an airstrike against a popular market and other civilian sites in the city of Atareb in Aleppo on November 13, killing at least 84 people and injuring 150 which accounts for a war crime.

Remarking on eastern Ghouta, the commission said the siege, which entered its fifth year, has been characterized by slippery war methods which led to the most dangerous situation during the Syrian conflict. It noted that the siege was accompanied by indiscriminate attacks against civilians and protected sites tnd the use of chemical weapons, cluster missiles and starvation as well as preventing people from evacuating the areas.

According to the report, rebels and armed groups inside eastern Ghouta have also carried out indiscriminate bombing against the city of Damascus, which resulted in the deaths of civilians and war crimes.

Commission member, Hani Megali said that "even if the state is fighting terrorism, It is not justified to punish the entire population through starvation, indiscriminate shelling and the denial of medical and humanitarian aid access".

He called on all parties to immediately lift the siege from all areas and allow the access of aid and abandon strategies that target civilians, noting that the conflict in Syria in general completely ignores the rules of war.

The report covers the period from July 2017 to January 2018.

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