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Syria: UN Commission of Inquiry Urges Immediate Ceasefire as Unprecedented Violence Grips Syria, Warning of War Crimes and Humanitarian Crisis”

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Press release

Geneva – March 11, 2024


The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry revealed that Syria is currently grappling with an unprecedented surge in violence not witnessed since 2020. The report emphasizes the urgent need for a ceasefire to prevent further devastation to the war-torn nation. Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission, stressed the imperative for a determined international effort to contain the conflict, highlighting the critical necessity of a ceasefire for Syria’s well-being.

Since October, Syria has experienced a significant escalation in hostilities, marking the largest spike in fighting in four years. The consequences are devastating, with attacks on civilians and infrastructure likely constituting war crimes. The report paints a grim picture, detailing the humanitarian crisis that has left over 90% of Syrians living in poverty amid a crumbling economy and increasing lawlessness fueled by armed forces and militias.

The escalation began on October 5 with explosions during a military academy graduation in Homs, leading to a series of retaliatory actions. Al-Assad Government and Russian forces carried out indiscriminate attacks on opposition-controlled areas, hitting hospitals, schools, markets, and camps for internally displaced persons. These actions, potentially amounting to war crimes, have resulted in a mass exodus of people, exacerbating the displacement crisis.

Tensions have further escalated between foreign armies in Syria, particularly involving Israel, Iran, and the US. Incidents, including airstrikes and attacks on airports, have heightened concerns of a broader conflict. In northeast Syria, Turkish military operations against Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have led to violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks on power plants affecting water and electricity supply, potentially constituting war crimes.

The report also highlights the fragmentation of military alliances, infighting, and unlawful attacks in various regions, including central Syria, the Syria-Jordanian border, and Idlib. ISIL’s resurgence in central Syria poses a threat, with reported attacks on civilians likely amounting to war crimes. Al-Assad Government’s continued human rights abuses, disappearances, torture, and obstruction of efforts to locate detainees persist despite international pressure.

Notably, the report sheds light on the plight of nearly 30,000 children still held in internment camps, prisons, or rehabilitation centers in northeast Syria following ISIL’s territorial loss. The Commission urges immediate action to allow the return of these children to society, emphasizing the need to end their prolonged detention.

Amidst this grim scenario, Syrians face unprecedented hardships, with 16.7 million in need of humanitarian assistance, exacerbated by a severe lack of donor funds leading to the suspension of regular food aid. The UN Commission of Inquiry is set to present its comprehensive mandate report to the UN Human Rights Council on March 18, highlighting the urgency for global attention and intervention in the Syrian crisis.

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