Government Forces Abuse Syrian Civilians

Buildings that have been targeted by the Syrian-Russian bombing of Aleppo Buildings that have been targeted by the Syrian-Russian bombing of Aleppo © 2019 AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

16 March 2020

Civilians who stay in retaken Idlib risk government retaliation

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that civilians who chose to remain in the Idlib province once it was retaken by Syrian government forces have experienced abuse by government troops. HRW claims that government troops shot at civilians and desecrated the bodies of civilians that were killed in the violence that led up to Idlib being recaptured by government forces. The Syrian-Russian allied forces began bombing the province last April, but there were no troops on the ground until January 2020. HRW reports that the Syrian-Russian forces used indiscriminate bombing which killed many civilians in the area.

Idlib, in northwest Syria, has been an area of heightened conflict in the past few months. In early January, the Idlib province was one of the last regions to be held by the rebels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent troops to recapture Idlib, and by the end of February, the province was back in the hands of government forces. The conflict in Idlib has displaced hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, forcing them to flee to the Syrian-Turkish border in the north. 

Under the international laws of war, it is illegal to purposely cause harm to civilians. Additionally, desecration and mutilation of the bodies of the deceased is also illegal. Syrian troops are now being accused of both of these crimes. HRW called for Syrian and Russian government officials to immediately suspend the members of their forces who have been accused of international war crimes.


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Author: Vito Quaglia; Editor: Rachel Warner

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