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Syria regime and Russia attacks killed 979 aid workers

Civil defense crew, also known as the White Helmets, carry out search and rescue works around the debris of buildings after airstrikes carried out by Assad Regime over Saraqib district in the de-escalation zone of Idlib, Syria on December 21, 2019 [Hüseyin Fazıl / Anadolu Agency]
Civil defense crew, also known as the White Helmets, carry out search and rescue works around the debris of buildings after airstrikes carried out by Assad Regime over Saraqib district in the de-escalation zone of Idlib, Syria on 21 December 2019 [Hüseyin Fazıl / Anadolu Agency]

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, the Assad regime and Russia attacks killed nearly 1,000 humanitarian workers, according to a Syrian human rights watchdog on Wednesday.

A total of 979 humanitarian workers, 882 of which were killed by the Assad regime and 97 by Russia in March 2011-December 2019, according to a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

The Assad regime targeted humanitarian workers’ facilities and vehicles for 1,044 times, whereas the Russian forces for 403.

Over 3,800 humanitarian workers are still detained or forcibly disappeared at the hands of Syrian regime forces.

The regime forces bombed aid centers to prevent local and international humanitarian organisations from providing medical services within those besieged areas.

“The Syrian regime has far surpassed the level of barbarism shown by many other violent and dictatorial regimes,” the report said, adding that arrests and prosecutions of humanitarian workers as well as deliberate targeting and bombing of humanitarian organisations are common in the field.

Read: Assad’s regime, Russia escalate attacks in Idlib, Erdogan warns

All of these factors pose a grave challenge to existing humanitarian personnel of local and international organisations, the report added.

The SNHR stressed that the Russian forces deliberately bombed the White Helmets civil defense agency on September 30, 2015.

Underlining that Russia attacked the humanitarian aid convoy in Urum al-Kubra district of the northwestern Syrian province of Aleppo on September 19, 2016, the report criticised the UN for not following up on its investigation.

The Urum al-Kubra attack and other attacks on humanitarian workers constitute war crimes according to the Geneva Convention and it is part of the International Criminal Court’s duties to hold the perpetrators accountable, the report added.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes targeting opposition-held areas.

Read: ‘Turkey cannot bear another refugee influx by itself’

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