Syrian government planes targeted civilians in six distinct attacks, which all occurred within 48 hours of each other. The attacks took place in the Northern Syrian city of Aleppo, as well as in the capital Damascus and the city of Dera’a in the South. The 70 killed include 19 children and four women.
On the 25th of December, 2014 at noon, MiG war planes carried out raids on the “El Bab” area of Aleppo, as well as on the Aleppo suburb of Qabasin. Militants of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) control both of these areas. However, military targets and structures that sheltered ISIS militants were located about one kilometer away from the sight of the air raids.
The air attacks in and around Aleppo targeted a popular market and shops with three fuel-air explosive missiles. Similarly, three missiles were fired at the Qabasin suburb. At the time of the attack, civilians were just returning from the “Bazaar” market. This popular market takes place only once a week on Thursday, including on the day of the attacks.
Monitors of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) counted more than 150 wounded and 38 fatalities on the blast sites of the two Aleppo attacks. Local medical organizations quickly appeared at the site. The most important among them was called “Ambulance Without Borders”. These organizations and field hospitals report a severe shortage of medication, medical supplies and blood.
At the end of Thursday, the 25th of December 2014, DCHRS recorded a preliminary number of 44 dead. The names of the victims are as follows:
- Mohamed Shaker Mahou
- Abdul Ghani Sheikh Ahmed
- Juma Qadour
- Ismail Khelf
- Ahmed Khelf (child)
- Joud Ghawi (child, 5 years old)
- Fatoun Abu Zahid (child, 15 years old)
- Hasnan Mahmoud Sawas (20 years old)
- Fatima Sawas (40 years old)
- Amer Ahmed Thilji
- Mustafa Hamadou Shihabi
- Ahmed Hamadou Shihabi
- Stouf Naqu
- Ibrahim Mustafa
- Mohammed Omar Mahmoud Jebeli (child)
- Mohammed Shashou
- Mohammed Abdel Basset Abboud
- Ismail Khamis
- Mustafa Kassar
- Hussein Naef (child)
- Hassan Ahmad Naqu (child, 16 years old)
- Abdul Qadir Faraj
- Mohamed Ali Hameed
- Ibrahim Mahou
- Majid Mersch
- Khalil Ali Ali
- Mousa Al-Hamoud
- Hassan Abbas
- Mohamed Choukri
- Qasim Hissou
- Khadr Hissou
- Wasim Ghawi (child, 5 years old)
- Abd Hamid Ghawi (child, 7 years old)
- Mohamed Tahir Wees (39 years old)
- Maher (student, 19 years old)
- Mohamed Hassan (20 years old)
- Victim known as Abu Taha, Turkmen, full name unknown (20 years old)
- Victim known as Abu Ibrahim Ghawi, full name unknown (25 years old)
- Ahmed Swied (23 years old)
- Two children, disfigured beyond the point of recognition
- Two adults, disfigured beyond the point of recognition
- Ali Qasem
Less than 48 hours after the Aleppo strikes, the Assad regime targeted civilians in the Ain Tarma and Saqba areas of Damascus province. On the 26th of December, 2014 at about 1.30 pm regime warplanes fired four fuel-air explosive missiles. The missiles were directed at gatherings of civilians in the Zinnia and Tabbala neighbourhoods of Ain Tarma outside of Damascus. These civilians had attended Friday prayers just before the attack.
The attack in Ain Tarma demolished an entire apartment building, which provided shelter to internally displaced persons (IDPs). Five IDPs from the Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar could immediately be identified as victims of the attack. Other victims remained stuck under the rubble for a long time, whilst civil defense teams and relatives sought to uncover them. The southern bureau of the DCHRS noted that more than fifteen people were wounded as a consequence of the attack.
Four missiles were also fired on the town of Saqba in a distinct attack on the 26th of December at 4 pm. The missiles hit a building which housed local civilians as well as IDPs from the city of Homs. As a result of the strikes, six people died immediately and over twenty people were injured. Red Crescent relief teams provided medical aid in the face of a great shortage in supplies.
By the end of Friday, the 26th of December 2014, the DCHRS recorded a preliminary total of twelve casualties from the Ain Tarma and Saqba attacks. The names of the victims are as follows:
- Abdo Ziad Shephed, originally from the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus proper (child)
- Bashir Hassan Rashid, originally from the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus proper (child)
- Hanin Bashir Rashid, originally from the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus proper (child)
- Yasser Mohamed Rafiq Dahrouq, originally from the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus proper
- Ahmed Ali Idris, originally from the Jobar neighbourhood of Damascus proper
- Basma Sami al-Zarqawi, originally from the Abida neighbourhood of Damascus proper
- Omar Faran, local resident of Saqba
- Qasim Ibrahim Darwish, originally from the Abida neighbourhood of Damascus proper
- Muhamed Anis Sahli, originally from Homs (child, 7 years old)
- Ahmed Jansaz, originally from Homs
- Noor Abu Dhahab, local resident of Saqba
- Mohamed Bashar al-Meriden, also known by the name Abu Mohamed, local resident of Sabqa
On the next day, Saturday the 27th of December, 2014, around noon, MiG-type warplanes fired three fuel-air missiles at the town Ibtaa. Ibtaa is located in the suburbs around Deraa. As a result of the strike, seven people were killed and at least fifteen were injured. All of those killed or injured were civilians. Out of the fifteen injured people, eleven were transported to nearby field hospitals. The most important field hospital in the area is called Nabbed Houran. This hospital faces an acute shortage of medication and medical equipment.
At the end of Saturday, the 27th of December, 2014, the DCHRS recorded a preliminary total of seven casualties from the Ibtaa attack (close to Deraa). The names of the victims are as follows:
- Mahmoud Abdullah Nuseirat
- Muhammad Yunus Abdullah Nuseirat
- Muhammad Ali Abdullah Nuseirat
- Osama Qasim Nuseirat
- Mohamed Abdel Halim Ahmad Nuseirat
- Ziad Kassem Alyak
- Naim Mahmoud Back Alkotaivan
Also on Saturday, at precisely 1 pm in the afternoon, warplanes carried out a raid on the center of Douma (located about 10 km north-east of Damascus proper). The strike hit an area crowded with civilians and immediately killed six persons. Five of those killed were children. Ten people were wounded in the attack. In response to the attack, the minarets of the Douma mosques called out for urgent blood donations and donations of medical supplies.
By the end of Saturday, the 27th of December, 2014, the DCHRS recorded a preliminary total of seven casualties from the Douma attack. Their names are as follows:
- Amjad Bassam Talib (child)
- Atidal Bobas
- Abdul Karim Mahmoud Ragab Fawaz Shamsham (child)
- Mary Karim Mahmoud Ragab Fawaz Shamsham (child)
- Zakaria Mahmoud Ragab Fawaz Shamsham (child)
- Haitham Shalet, also known by the name Abu Maarouf
- Unidentified person, disfigured beyond the point of recognition
The acts of the Syrian air force are carried out on the basis of orders from the Syrian regime. Therefore, these systematic and consecutive massacres should be considered state policy as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
These two massacres constitute serious violations of international law and international norms. The massacres can be classified as a war crime under Article 8-2-b-ix of the Rome Statute, which criminalizes: “Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives.”
With these attacks, the Syrian regime targeted residential neighborhoods and areas that provide refuge to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Under the Rome Statute, these are not legitimate military targets. These acts can be classified as a war crime under article 8-2-b-ix of the Rome Statute (amongst other articles): “Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives”.
Moreover, the regime used fuel-air explosive missiles that led to a high number of civilian casualties. The Syrian regime’s use of force against civilians can also be classified as a war crime under article 8-2-b-vi: “Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.”
ISIS also carries responsibility because it established military centers in the middle of residential areas. ISIS knowingly puts the lives of the civilians in danger with this decision.
DCHRS appeals to the United Nations and its Secretary General to take immediate action to protect Syrian civilians from the perpetual attacks. The DCHRS warns that the silence of the international community will lead to further atrocities. In the absence of external intervention, the Assad regime will continue to shed the blood of innocent civilians. At a minimum, the DCHRS urges the international community to immediately impose a safe zone to protect Syrian civilians.
Damascus Center for Human Rights
Dec 27, 2014
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Radwan Ziadeh
Tel: +1 (571) 205-3590
Mr. Mojahed Ghadban
Tel: +1 (479) 799-8115
The Damasus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) is an independent human rights NGO that monitors the human rights situation in Syria. Established in 2005, it was initially located in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The mission of DCHRS is to promote respect for human rights in Syria.
DCHRS engages in numerous documentation projects. These projects include daily casualty reports, reports on particular massacres, and the reporting and documenting of other human rights violations. DCHRS has also works to lobby and advocate for Syrian human rights, and aims to draw the world’s attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria.
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the center has expanded its activities, working to coordinate and communicate with activists. At this time, the center began documenting the daily violations committed by Syrian regime forces, many of which can be classified as crimes against humanity or war crimes. As the conflict developed, DCHRS expanded its monitoring activities to all armed groups.
Human rights violations recorded by DCHRS have included (but are not limited to): extrajudicial killings, massacres, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, rape, and torture. DCHRS has opened local offices in Syria in order to document evidence concerning human rights violations on the ground. These reports have been submitted by DCHRS to many international and regional human rights organizations, as well as with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (established by the UN).
DCHRS recognizes and adheres to all pertinent international human rights agreements and declarations issued by the UN. DCHRS is also a member of the following international networks:
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
- NGO Coalition for the international Criminal Court
- International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP)
- International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC)