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Syria

    May 20, 2020

    GENEVA (20 May 2020) – UN experts today called on Canada to secure the urgent release and repatriation of a five-year-old orphaned girl being held in inhuman conditions in north-eastern Syria’s overcrowded Al-Hol camp.

    “Canada has an obligation to intervene in favour of its nationals abroad, particularly if there are reasonable grounds to believe that their non-derogable human rights have been violated,” said the experts.

    “Within this context, special care must be taken for children, particularly if their parents are dead,” the experts emphasized.

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic in play, and thus in a time of new vulnerabilities for children, the return of this orphaned child to Canada and reunion with her family/relatives is even more urgent.” 

    After her parents – suspected of affiliation with ISIL – were reportedly killed in a 2019 airstrike, she was taken to Al-Hol camp, which houses an estimated 70,000 people, including more than 40,000 children.

    May 14, 2020

    The report ‘Nowhere is safe for us’ documents attacks on schools and hospitals in towns and villages in Idlib, western Aleppo, and north-western Hama governorates in Syria from December 2019 to March 2020. These attacks, carried out by Syrian and Russian government forces, entailed a myriad of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    It takes a team effort and collaboration between different experts to collate, corroborate and confirm evidence of war crimes. This blogpost takes us through the steps that allow us to integrate different forms of evidence into the research and use new methodologies for the first time.

    May 10, 2020
    Detailed investigation into 18 air and ground attacks on schools and hospitals Russia and Syria deliberately hit hospitals on UN ‘do not target’ list Strong evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in unlawful air strikes

    The UN Security Council must not cut a vital aid lifeline for civilians in the context of war crimes and crimes against humanity in north-west Syria, Amnesty International urged today, as a resolution allowing humanitarian assistance to reach Idlib across Syria’s borders is set to expire in the coming weeks.

    A new Amnesty International report, 'Nowhere is safe for us': Unlawful attacks and mass displacement in north-west Syria, details 18 cases – the majority in January and February 2020 – where Syrian and/or Russian government forces targeted medical facilities and schools in Idlib, western Aleppo and north-western Hama governorates.

    March 31, 2020

    The Syrian authorities must cooperate fully with UN agencies and humanitarian organizations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country’s prisons, detention centres and military hospitals, Amnesty International has warned.

    Prisoners and detainees, including tens of thousands of people arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared, are at risk of contracting the disease as they are held in unhygienic conditions in locations across the country operated by the country’s security forces.

    “In Syrian prisons and detention centres, COVID-19 could spread quickly due to poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water and severe overcrowding”, said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “This government has a long record of denying prisoners and detainees the medical care and medicines that they urgently need. Anyone detained must have access to prevention and treatment services as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens lives.

    March 04, 2020

    Ahead of a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Moscow tomorrow (Thursday 5 March) to discuss the escalating military conflict in Idlib in Syria, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The Moscow summit represents an opportunity for Russia and Turkey to prioritize the safety of civilians.

    “The fate of almost one million people forced from their homes now hangs in the balance as this meeting goes ahead.

    “After nine years of fighting characterized by utter disregard for civilians’ lives, new attacks in Idlib - including the ongoing targeting of schools and hospitals - is causing more untold misery to civilians, many of whom have already been forced to flee multiple times in this humanitarian horror story.

    “As a matter of priority, Russia and Turkey should pressure the Syrian government to end attacks on civilians to avoid escalating deaths and injuries and further displacement.

    February 25, 2020

    Following report that 10 schools were hit by shelling in Idlib and Aleppo countryside, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director, said:

    “Schools should be safe places for children to learn and play, even in a conflict zone. Targeting schools and kindergartens being used for civilian purposes is a war crime.

    “Nine years into the crisis, the Syrian government continues to show utter disregard for the laws of war and the lives of civilians. These attacks form part of a well-established pattern of systematically attacking the civilian population and constitute crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes.

    “We call on the Syrian and Russian forces to stop all direct attacks on civilians, indiscriminate attacks and other serious violations. All those who order or commit war crimes must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

    October 18, 2019

    Turkish military forces and a coalition of Turkey-backed Syrian armed groups have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life, carrying out serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians, during the offensive into northeast Syria, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization gathered witness testimony between 12 and 16 October from 17 people including medical and rescue workers, displaced civilians, journalists, local and international humanitarian workers, as well as analyzing and verifying video footage and reviewing medical reports and other documentation.

    The information gathered provides damning evidence of indiscriminate attacks in residential areas, including attacks on a home, a bakery and a school, carried out by Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups. It also reveals gruesome details of a summary killing in cold blood of a prominent Syrian-Kurdish female politician, Hevrin Khalaf, by members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiya, part of the Syrian National Army, a coalition of Syrian armed groups equipped and supported by Turkey.

    September 30, 2019

    Ahmed H, his wife and two daughters had found safety in Cyprus after escaping war-ravaged Syria. But he worried about his elderly parents and six other family members who were still inside Syria’s border. In August 2015, he left his young family at home in Cyprus and traveled to Turkey, intending to help the rest of his family escape from Syria too. They made their way to the Hungarian border only to find themselves stranded along with hundreds of refugees after President Orban closed the crossing from Serbia.

    Tensions rose and clashes broke out. Hungary’s police responded with tear gas and water cannon, injuring dozens. Some threw stones, including Ahmed, but news footage also clearly shows him using a megaphone to call on both sides to remain calm. Of eleven people arrested, he was the only one charged under the counter-terrorism law. 

    June 06, 2019

    Marking the second anniversary of the start of the US-led Coalition’s military offensive in Raqqa, Syria, Amnesty International today launched “The Ruins of Liberation,” a multimedia storytelling site giving a behind-the-scenes look at its investigations in the bombed-out city.

    Panos photographer Andrea DiCenzo accompanied Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera on a visit to Raqqa in February 2019, documenting her investigation. Images by DiCenzo and Rovera are combined with audio commentary with Rovera giving an intimate description of the people she met and the reality she exposed. 

    April 25, 2019
    Amnesty International and Airwars launch interactive website documenting hundreds of civilian casualties Most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in modern warfare US, UK and French forces still in denial, admitting to 10% of killings

    The US-led military Coalition must end almost two years of denial about the massive civilian death toll and destruction it unleashed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Amnesty International and Airwars said today as they launched a new data project on the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS).

    March 27, 2019

    Syrian government forces, supported by Russia, hit a hospital, blood bank and other medical facilities as well as a bakery and a school in towns and cities under the control of armed opposition groups in Idlib, in what appear to be direct attacks on civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks, Amnesty International said today after verifying six attacks.

    Over the past month, the Syrian government escalated its air strikes and artillery attacks on densely populated areas located on the strategic Damascus-Aleppo international highway in Idlib, known as M5.

    Amnesty International interviewed 13 residents who witnessed such attacks in Saraqeb, Khan Sheikhoun, Talmans and Sheikh Idriss in Idlib. The organization verified the witness testimonies through analysis of videos, open source information and satellite imagery. At least four civilians were killed and four were injured in these attacks.

    According to testimonies, the recent escalation in violence has displaced thousands of people to cities and towns close to the border with Turkey.

    March 07, 2019

    Syrian women must have an official and active role in shaping the country’s future Amnesty International said today, as it launched a new campaign highlighting the gender-based violations women have experienced during the conflict and the failure to include them in discussions and decision-making about the future.

    The campaign Unheard No More: Syrian women shaping Syria’s future illustrates how since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, women have been subjected to multiple violations and abuses including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, abduction and gender-based violence at the hands of the Syrian authorities and other parties involved in the conflict.

    January 11, 2019

    Reacting to today’s statement by the US-led Coalition that it has begun “the process of deliberate withdrawal” from Syria, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “It is deplorable that the US-led Coalition continues to ignore its responsibility of carrying out any meaningful investigations into the hundreds of civilian deaths it caused in Raqqa and elsewhere – even as it starts to withdraw from Syria.

    “The Coalition is unashamedly ignoring the devastating legacy of its bombing campaign, adding insult to injury by making clear that it has no intention of offering survivors any form of remedy or compensation.  

    “Amnesty International has been to Raqqa multiple times since the battle ended. Not a single one of the hundreds of survivors we’ve spoken to on the ground has even been contacted by the Coalition – let alone received any assistance – as they try to rebuild their lives.

    November 20, 2018

    Thousands of digital activists around the world will take part in an innovative new crowdsourcing data project Amnesty International is launching today, which uses satellite imagery to help plot how the US-led military coalition’s bombings destroyed almost 80% of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

    “Strike Tracker” is the next phase of an in-depth Amnesty International investigation, in partnership with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian casualties resulting from four months of US, UK and French bombardment to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from Raqqa.

    Amnesty International’s field investigations and analysis since the battle ended in October 2017 presented compelling evidence of apparent violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by the US-led Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise its civilian death toll statistics upwards from 23 to more than 100 – a 300% increase.

    October 22, 2018

    By Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    This month I was in Raqqa – my first time in Syria amid one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts in decades. I witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by the US-led coalition’s relentless bombardment during a four-month battle that ended a year ago this week. Today, residents are still digging corpses from the rubble and the stench of death hangs heavy in the air.

    Walking around, I saw how entire city blocks had been levelled by Coalition air and artillery strikes aimed at ousting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground, US, UK and French forces carried out thousands of air strikes. US military officials boasted about lobbing 30,000 artillery rounds into the city – the most fired by a US battalion anywhere since the Vietnam War.

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