MESOP A SUMMARY ON BODYCOUNT – Russia Has Now Killed More Civilians in Syria than ISIS

 A new report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reveals a dangerous escalation in Russian airstrikes, with Russian attacks now causing more civilian deaths than the terrorist group, ISIS.

Since the start of Russia’s intervention in Syria less than one year ago, Russian forces have killed at least 2,704 civilians, including 746 children and 514 women.  By contrast, in the three years since ISIS first gained a foothold in Syria, the terrorist group has killed an estimated 2,686 civilians, including 368 children and 323 women.   

“Russian forces have violated the rules of international humanitarian law that protect the right to life”, the SNHR wrote in their report.  But “the bombardment operations mentioned in the report have targeted unarmed civilians.  [They] have caused collateral damages that include casualties, injuries and great damages to civil facilities. Indicators suggest that damage was extremely extensive compared with the expected military benefit.”

Russia’s attacks disproportionately affect civilians and have indiscriminately targeted civilian objects, including schools, hospitals, bakeries, and houses.  These actions are in violation of Russia’s legal obligations under the Geneva Conventions, including the additional protocols and constitute war crimes.  According to SNHR monitors, who meticulously document war crimes and atrocities by all parties to the conflict in Syria, Russian forces have killed no less than 28 medics throughout the course of the conflict, 10 media activists and even students.  Such attacks only bolster extremist groups and impede efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The Syrian opposition HNC unequivocally condemns the indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Syria perpetrated by both the Russia Federation and ISIS terrorists.  We call on the Russian Federation and ISIS to leave Syria and stop aiding and abetting the Syrian regime’s war crimes.

We furthermore call on Member States of the International Syria Support Group to:

Protect civilians by deterring the leading killer of Syrian civilians: indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Syrian regime and Russian forces.  The enforcement of a no-bombing zone encompassing all of Syrian territory and manned from naval assets in the Mediterranean would save lives and lay the foundation towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Strengthen targeted sanctions against the Russian Federation, which is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity across Syria.

Ensure accountability for all those responsible for war crimes in Syria, including by taking immediate steps to apply national and universal jurisdiction to hold war criminals accountable.