Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Coalition and the Russians… Violations that hinder the Humanitarian Laws and reinforces injustice in Syria


 'It is obvious that the residents in the areas under ISIS’s control in Syria, consider the international coalition led by the United States, as an aggression that is not less brutal than the heads of the alleged caliphate. Perhaps the victims questioned the purpose of the military actions that killed the civilians under the pretext of “fighting against terrorism”. Therefore, in its broad and international sense, terrorism has become an umbrella which allows killing innocents.

 The International Coalition claimed that it executed raids that killed Syrian civilians on several occasions, and said that it will investigate other facts. However, it denied the accusations of committing serious massacres. One of them happened recently, at the beginning of March in the village of Al-Mansoura in the western countryside of Raqqa, when activists documented that tens of immigrant civilians were killed by an air strike, which the American General Stephen J. Townsend described it as “a clean strike”.

 The “clean” strikes that has been recently and notably escalating that were aimed to “fight against terrorism” and “promote democracy and civil peace”, according to the American concept of violations, were concurrently executed along with similar strikes in terms of the declared goals and objectives of Russia, the Syrian regime’s ally. According to local and international human rights organizations, Russia has hindered international humanitarian laws in Syria and reinforced the oppression of the Sunni citizens. This may have a negative impact on the region and may be the reason for the emergence of new extremist organizations since “Killing innocent people is like upbringing wolves”, according to a tweet of a Syrian journalist in Twitter.

 Local and international human rights organizations of the International coalition, and Russia were accused of committing six massacres against civilians in different parts of Syria in less than a year (as an example and not in total).

 A separate human rights sources accused the International Coalition of carrying out raids on the town of Tokhar Kabir located in Manbij district in the eastern countryside of Aleppo on July 19, 2016. Activists said 125 people, mostly women and children, were killed, while ISIS said there were more than 160 victims.

 Local human rights sources accused the United States of carrying out a massacre of civilians in the village of Al-Jinah in the countryside of Idlib, on March 16, 2017, which killed between 47 and 49 people, according to the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”.

 Local human rights sources accused the International Coalition of carrying out raids that targeted a school that was sheltering immigrants in the town of Al-Mansoura in the western countryside of Raqqa, on March 21, 2017, which killed around 33 to 53 civilians, including children, according to separate sources.

 Activists from human rights organizations, including the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, accused The Russian Air Force of carrying out a massacre in the city of Idlib, on February 7, 2017, in which 28 people, mostly civilians, were killed.

 The Syrian opposition and Western countries, including the United States and Britain, accused the Russian air force of targeting an international relief convoy in Western Aleppo, on 19 September 2017, which caused the death of 32 people, including 12 Red Crescent volunteers, according to the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”.

 International organizations, including the “Atlantic Council” in Washington, accused the Russian Air Force of destroying three hospitals in Aleppo in an air campaign that lasted from September to December 2016, which caused the death of 440 civilians, including 90 children, according to “Human Rights Watch” organization.

 Fadel Abdul Ghani, director of the “Syrian Human Rights Network”, said “We have issued several reports about massacres that are committed by the International coalition forces against the civilians, and we have twice recorded their shelling of the armed opposition”.

 He also pointed out that “There are many massacres that were committed against the civilians and we said that they amount to war crimes, because the coalition forces entered Syria because of the conflict, they have to abide by international humanitarian law, and distinguish between military and civilian targets”.

 Concerning the coalition’s attempts to justify its mistakes under the pretext of “wrong information”, Abdul Ghani said: “We do not care about the details about the coalition getting the wrong intelligence information from their allies, the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces or the (Syrian Democratic Forces), must be fully responsible”.

 Munif al-Taei, director of the Urnamo Organization for Justice and Human Rights in Syria, considers that the international coalition “does not care about the law of war”.

 In an interview with Enab Baladi, he said: “The international coalition is composed of around 60 countries that classify themselves as human rights defenders. They do not care about the law of war that states that civilians must be neutralized from conflicts”. He called on the United Nations to force these countries to “strictly abide by the neutralization of civilians”. He also warned that repeating the massacres “undermines the credibility of the coalition in the war against ISIS”.

 The massacres committed by the coalition forces against civilians can only be considered as “crimes”, according to the Syrian writer and political researcher Sasha Alaluo, who explained that the United Nations must intervene to limit these crimes. Alaluo opened a serious investigation concerning the nature of those “crimes”, especially that they were concurrently committed between Mosul and Syria in a suspicious manner, and caused a very large number of victims, as he described.

 The social media were flooded with photos of the victims of the massacres attributed to the International Coalition in the areas of ISIS, or the American raids on Northern Syria. This has led to a significant hatred against the Western countries in general, which not only let down the Syrian revolution, but also contributed to the murder of civilians, according to their views.

 Fadel Abdul Ghani, considered that hostility “is measured by the amount of damage caused and who made it. There are multiple factors and different elements that are involved in interpreting the hostility and its degree, this needs to be separately analyzed”. He added: “But the biggest degree of hostility, according to facts and not aspirations, is still against the Syrian regime since it is considered as the first culprit of the massacres, which brought all these authorities as a result of its repression and brutality.

 Abdul Ghani categorized the “ISIS” as one of the most prominent enemies of the Syrian people, as it is considered as “very nihilist, brutal and expiatory and it is impossible to coexist with it. And perhaps if it owned the state’s institutions and capabilities, it would be more deadly and bloody than the Syrian regime”.

 The Syrian human rights activist pointed out that the Russian forces occupies the third rank of hostility, as it is clear that they were deliberately bombing schools and hospitals, and stood by the Syrian regime logistically and politically. He also criticized the United States of America by saying: “it may be held responsible on the other hand, because its president announced, in July 2011, that Assad must leave, took no action to make him leave, bypassed the red lines, including the chemical issue, and repeatedly let down the Syrian people”.

 The Syrian researcher Sasha Alaluo stated that: “If we logically categorize the enemies of the Syrian people, we will label at least half of the world including the international community, regional groups and the Syrian regime, as well as the local factions allegedly belonging to the revolution. The issue reaches beyond the enemy, as the Syrian people are victimized by more than a rival. Thus, asking for retaliation is a challenging task. Thus, like in the incident when the tribes unified, each using its own tools and techniques, to kill the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)”.

 Fadel Abdul Ghani considered that “ISIS is taking advantage from such massacres and the oppression against the Sunnis which is considered as one of the reasons of its emergence and the high levels of extremism and exaggeration in religion expressed by its members”. Hence, he added:” There is tyranny, repression and a lack of justice in society. The oppressor is expanding dominion and barbarism further which generates a sense of injustice and an envy to burst. As such, alliances for the aim of taking revenge are to be formed raising religious and ideological slogans justifying its existence”.

 Mr. Abdul Ghani also talked about the circumstances of al-Nusra Front’s access into Syria, saying:” the number of Syrians admitted into al- Nusra was limited. The youth joined the movement as a result of the disastrous situation in Syria and the constant killings. Hence, the same reasons brought other Syrians to join ISIS”.

 The head of the “Urnamo” organization, Munif al-Taei agreed with Fadel Abdul Ghani and considered that “one of the most prominent causes of the emergence of ISIS is the regime’s excessive use of violence against the opposition at the beginning of the upheavals in Syria. Nonetheless, the justifications of many people who took parts within terrorist organizations consisted mainly of their feeling of oppression being provided with no sense of justice in this world. As such, they deduced that revenge is the sole path to be taken”. Al-Taei also clarified that: “if we want to eliminate these phenomena, we need to initiate a phase of transitional justice in order to secure even a little sense of justice for the victims’ families”.

 The researcher Sasha Alaluo also deduced that “it is natural that these crimes and violations serve the propaganda of ISIS and increase feelings of oppression and injustice among in the Sunni Arab component sensing that it is specifically targeted from various quarters, whether its partners in the homeland or ISIS. In fact, until this day ISIS violations are committed only within the Sunni Arab segment in which the terrorist organization was born. On the other hand, the Global Coalition attacks this segment under the pretext of being part of ISIS, which may generate cases of extremism in different directions. Such cases will increase with the fall of each victim and grow inside the refugee camps to be bore in the memories of children”.

 During the last year, the European countries have witnessed attacks of a new kind, done by young Muslims of different nationalities, who have been labeled as “lone wolves”. They attacked civilians in public squares, public transport stations and nightclubs under the slogan of supporting “the Islamic State” and fighting “crusaders in their own homes”. Thus, many researchers assumed that most of these people were attached emotionally to ISIS and not physically, which is referred to as a sign of ISIS’s success in transferring the oppressed Sunnis’ message to Europe.

 The report of the Syrian Human Rights Network stated that: “For the first time, the global coalition forces killed more civilians than the Russian forces in January 2017. The United States must take the necessary measures and precautions to ensure that no civilian casualties will occur under the laws of international war in the future”.

 The Syrian media, journalists, and human rights groups have to document these attacks as accurately, neutrally and fully as possible. Also, they are required to communicate with the victims or their families and to preserve their testimonies as well as the harms they have suffered from, including the material damages.

 They also have to resort to domestic and international human rights organizations to file lawsuits and demand the prosecution of the perpetrators of the crimes if proven. Hence, material and moral compensations must be provided to the injured in addition to treatments.

 These measures should be taken against all the alleged perpetrators of crimes in Syria like the global coalition against ISIS, the Russian forces, or the Syrian armed groups etc.'

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