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Rights group: 211 massacres committed in Syria this year

November 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Turkish Soldiers and Turkish Red Crescent members distribute humanitarian aid to Syrian families after clearing Deir Ballut village of Jinderes, from PYD/PKK-Daesh terrorists in Afrin, Syria, within “Operation Olive Branch” on 9 March, 2018 [Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency]

At least five massacres were committed in Syria in October, bringing the total number for 2018 to 211, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced yesterday.

Last month witnessed a significant fall in the scope of military operations by most of the parties to the conflict, except for international coalition forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who escalated their attacks on Daesh-held areas in the eastern province of Deir Ez-Zor.

Four of the five massacres were perpetrated by the international coalition, which included the bombardment of a mosque that killed over 54 people, including 12 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

US-led coalition kills 41 civilians in Syria mosque bombing [Twitter]

The US alleged that the mosque was being used as a base by Daesh operatives; some 22 militants were also killed in the blast. Despite being hit during the weekly Friday congregational prayer, a popular time for civilians, the military claimed it targeted the mosque when only fighters were present.

The latest incidents bring the total number of massacres, for which international coalition forces have been responsible, to 13 since the start of this year. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the bombing campaign.

After a damning report by Amnesty International on the aftermath of the battle for Raqqa was dismissed by participating governments, the international rights groups warned in July that the US-led coalition is in denial of the extent of civilian casualties caused by its bombing campaign in the city.

READ: Syrians need ‘psychological reconstruction’

The other massacre was perpetrated by Daesh militants, in which five civilians were killed; the report uses the term “massacre” to refer to an incident in which five or more “peaceful individuals” are killed in the same attack.

However, the report also stressed that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 through indiscriminate attacks, that have also resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians.

It stressed for the Syrian case to be referred to the International Criminal Court to hold all those who have been involved in atrocities to account, including the Russian regime whose participation in war crimes has been proven.

Last year, 358 massacres were committed in Syria; 33 occurred in November alone, mainly in Deir Ez-Zor and Eastern Ghouta, of which most — 16 to be exact — were committed by troops loyal to the Assad regime. Thirteen others were committed by Russian forces, it is alleged, with one attributed to the international coalition.

The SNHR called on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations into the incidents documented in the report, with the watchdog offering to provide further evidence on the crimes committed.

READ: Over 1,000 bodies discovered in mass grave in Syria’s Raqqa