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UN Syria Commission of Inquiry: Increasing violence and fighting add to Syria’s woes

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News briefing

Geneva, 14 September 2021

Translated and edited by: The Committee for Justice

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria stated Tuesday, at the 24th report issued by the Commission, that the escalation in hostilities and renewed violence were of concern, stressing that the country was unfit for the safe and dignified return of refugees.

Speaking at a press conference today in Geneva, the Chair of the Commission, Paulo Pinheiro said: “One decade in, the parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians. The war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven in this war-torn country.”

Committing on the report, Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd, stated that: “The overall situation in Syria looks increasingly bleak. In addition to intensifying violence, the economy is plummeting, Mesopotamia’s famous riverbeds are at their driest in decades, and widespread community transmission of the COVID-19 seems unstoppable by a health care system decimated by the war and lacking oxygen and vaccines. This is no time for anyone to think that Syria is a country fit for its refugees to return”

According to the report; hostilities in northwest Syria, which had been halted for a while as a result of the March 2020 ceasefire agreement between the Russian Federation and Turkey, resumed, with renewed aerial and artillery bombardment. Medical facilities, such as Atarib Hospital, markets and residential areas, were bombed in air and ground attacks, often indiscriminate, causing many civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, the southwest has seen fighting between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups. In the town of Daraa al-Balad, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising, pro-government forces imposed a siege marked by heavy artillery bombardment, leaving tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside without adequate access to military aid, food or health care, forcing thousands of men, women and children to flee.

Remarkably, years after the territorial defeat of Daesh, thousands of women and children are still being held illegally in camps across northeastern Syria in territory controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces coalition. They are suspected of having ties to Daesh, but they remain without recourse to the law and without a clear end date for their ordeal, leaving them to fend for themselves in conditions that may amount to cruel or inhuman treatment.

The committee is scheduled to submit its report to the Human Rights Council, on Thursday, September 23, at 3:00 pm.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic is composed of Paulo Sergio Pinheiro (chair), Karen Koning Abu Zeid and Hani Megally as members. The Commission was mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate and document all violations of international law inside the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.

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