[23 June 2016] The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee calls on the United Nations to investigate the repeated use of air-delivered incendiary weapons by Russian forces operating in Syria. In letters to the Secretary-General and Security Council delivered today, the HNC’s General Coordinator Dr. Riyad Hijab demands that the international community take measures to protect civilians from Russia’s indiscriminate airstrikes.
“Incendiary weapons rank among the world’s most powerful explosives and are known to have devastating effects on civilians. They cause immensely painful burns and prompt fires that are hard to extinguish. Yet Russian forces have systematically and deliberately used incendiary weapons to kill, maim and terrorize innocent Syrian civilians, including women and children”, Dr. Hijab warned.
There have been at least 10 documented cases of incendiary weapons and cluster munitions use by Russian forces in civilian occupied areas in Syria in 2016. In recent weeks, thermite—which experts have likened to ‘mini nuclear bombs’—has been used throughout Aleppo by Russian forces in a bid to terrorize civilians. The use of incendiary air-delivered weapons in civilian populated areas is prohibited under international law, including the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to which Russia is a party.
The HNC urges the Secretary-General, in his capacity as the depositary for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to:
- Launch an investigation into the use of incendiary aerial weapons by Russia in Syria;
- Demand the protection of Syrian civilians from the use incendiary aerial weapons in Syria;
- Call on Member States to impose consequences for repeated breaches on international humanitarian law by Russian and Syrian forces.
“The failure to impose consequences for the Syrian regime and Russia’s repeated breaches of international humanitarian law has allowed the Syrian crisis to worsen—costing Syrian lives, encouraging a global refugee crisis, and giving new life to extremist terrorist groups”, Dr. Hijab said. “The whole world is less safe because the world has failed to act on our people’s behalf.”
The text of Dr. Hijab’s letter can be found below.