The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) is an independent human rights NGO that monitors the human rights situation in Syria. In its thematic reports, the DCHRS issues a first indication of the casualties that it has managed to document to date. Through monitors who operate within Syria, DCHRS gathers information from across the country. However, the center’s access to information from Kurdish-held and ISIS-held territories is limited. The DCHRS is also unable to obtain accurate records on the number of Syrian regime forces killed in action, because these figures are not published by the regime.
In March 2015, the DCHRS documented a provisional total of 1,811 casualties. 83% of those killed were civilians. The remaining 17% belonged to one of the fighting factions. Women and children respectively made up 8% and 9% of the total number of war casualties.
The most common cause of death was the shelling of residential areas, which caused the death of 632 people in March. Sniper fire and indiscriminate shooting killed 38, whereas 601 people were tortured to death in the detention centers of the Syrian government authorities. A further 35 persons were murdered in extrajudicial killings. Armed groups such as ISIS killed 43, whilst the source of the bullets that killed another 32 persons cannot be attributed to a particular group. 17 died from starvation, which is a direct result of the siege that the Syrian regime imposes in many areas. Various explosions killed 92 people. Finally, 5 persons were killed as result of airstrikes by the U.S.-led international coalition.
Out of all the Syrian regions, most deaths were recorded in the Damascus and its suburb province. Violent clashes between regime forces and various armed groups have engulfed large parts of Damascus as well as the surrounding countryside. The Syrian regime has also targeted people in this area with barrel bombs. The total number of casualties who were killed in Damascus and its suburbs were (636 people). 93% of those were civilians (590 people), and 164 of whom were killed by indiscriminate shelling. In addition to that, out of the indiscriminate shelling victims; DCHRS documented 7 victims, who suffocated to death by poisonous gas attack in the province of Idlib during the month of March, 2015.
There was a significant rise in the number of casualties who were tortured to death in regime’s prison. Leaked photos from “Ceaser’s Case” revealed 55,000 photos of victims who were torture to death. Those victims were either detained or classified under enforced disappearance in the period between 2011 and 2013. Families of the victims, who identified the bodies, reported to DCHRS the victims’ information. As a result, DCHRS documented a total of 601 victims who were identified from the leaked photos in addition to the victims, who were tortured to death in March, 2015. Damascus and its Suburbs recorded the highest number of those victims who were tortured to death totaling to 368 victims, then Daraa province came second accumulating to 155 victims.
Through analysis of the casualties, it is possible to obtain a general picture of the human rights situation in Syria. Three observations indicate that the Syrian regime continues to actively target civilians. First, 83% of the total casualties are civilians. Secondly, about 35% of the casualties were the results of shelling, missiles, barrel bombs, and airstrikes. Finally, 33% of the victims were tortured to death in regime’s prisons and detention centers, most of whom were civilians including women and children. They were either detained or went missing under enforced disappearance. The families of those victims discovered their fate via these leaked photos, which indicated the most horrific and brutal means of force that had been used to torture them, torment them, and kill them. These methods of warfare belong exclusively to the regime and are associated with a high number of civilian deaths. The evidence collected by DCHRS points to grievous violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Torture and extrajudicial killings constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The DCHRS advocates for the protection of Syrian civilians. As a member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), the DCHRS calls upon the international community to fulfill its Responsibility to Protect with regard to Syria. DCHRS also appeals to medical and humanitarian organizations to provide relief to ease the suffering of the Syrian people inside Syria and abroad.
Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)
April 1, 2015
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)