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Syria

    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.

    October 14, 2018
    Disappointing Pentagon communiqué spurns liability for civilian casualties Coalition strikes destroyed 80% of Raqqa, killing hundreds of civilians Ongoing Amnesty International investigation reveals evidence of dozens of new civilian victims

    The US-led Coalition’s ongoing failure to admit to, let alone adequately investigate, the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction it caused in Raqqa is a slap in the face for survivors trying to rebuild their lives and their city, said Amnesty International a year after the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    October 12, 2018

    On his return from a field visit to Raqqa in Syria, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General Kumi Naidoo has described the horrific destruction and utter human devastation he witnessed, one year after the end of the battle in which the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) used massive firepower to drive the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) out of the city.

    “What I saw in Raqqa shocked me to my core. The city is a shell – bombed-out buildings, very little running water or electricity, the stench of death hanging in the air. That anyone is still able to live there defies logic and stands as testimony to the remarkable resilience of the city’s civilians,” he said.

    “Attacks by the US-led coalition not only killed hundreds of civilians but also displaced tens of thousands, who are now returning to a city in ruins, while many others languish in camps.”

    September 14, 2018

    The Syrian government, backed by Russia, has intensified unlawful attacks on civilians in Idlib using internationally banned cluster munitions and unguided barrel bombs in a prelude to a widely anticipated military offensive, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 13 attacks were reported to have taken place between 7 and 10 September in the southern part of Idlib governorate. The bombardments, which targeted the villages of al-Tah, Jerjanaz, al-Habeet, Hass, Abadeen as well as the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun, killed 14 civilians and injured 35 more.

    “The Syrian government has routinely used banned cluster munitions and barrel bombs across Syria to inflict terrible harm and suffering on civilians. Now, they have started duplicating these horrific tactics in Idlib and we don’t have any reason to believe that they will stop,” said Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.

    August 07, 2018

    After Amnesty International research prompted the US-led military Coalition to admit to killing dozens of civilians in its Raqqa offensive, the Coalition must urgently launch thorough, independent investigations to uncover the full scale of civilian deaths and compensate the victims and survivors.

    On 26 July the Coalition acknowledged that its aerial bombardments between June and October 2017 killed 77 civilians, including 24 children and 25 women – specific cases documented by Amnesty International’s field investigations in Raqqa. The Coalition had previously brushed off these cases as “non-credible” and senior officials had derided Amnesty International’s research as “naïve” and “reckless” in the media and other public forums. 

    June 08, 2018

    Responding to reports that Russian aircraft carried out an attack in Idlib province last night, killing at least 44 people, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This outrageous attack, the deadliest in Idlib so far this year, targeted the village of Zardana overnight while people were breaking the Ramadan fast. Among those killed were at least six children, and the death toll is expected to rise as the wounded succumb to their injuries. Deliberately attacking civilians violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime.

    “We are deeply troubled by reports that this was a ‘double-tap’ strike, in which aircraft follow up on an initial attack with a second strike which generally hits rescue workers and others coming to the aid of casualties. These cruel attacks have happened time and again in Syria, and demonstrate utter disregard for the lives of civilians and for fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.

    June 05, 2018
    Amnesty International carried out field investigations in the destroyed city US-led Coalition fired vast number of imprecise explosive weapons in populated civilian areas Even Coalition precision bombs took a horrendous toll on civilians Hundreds of civilians killed and then ‘Islamic State’ fighters allowed to leave

    From amid the rubble of Raqqa, civilians are asking why US-led Coalition forces destroyed the city, killing hundreds of civilians in the process of “liberating” them from the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS), Amnesty International said in a new report ahead of the offensive’s anniversary.

    Amnesty International researchers visited 42 Coalition air strike sites across the ruined city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the carnage and lost loved ones.

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