Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Killing of civilians and humanitarian crisis on Syrian Turkish border

Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Damascus Center for
Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Joint press release

Killing of
civilians and humanitarian crisis on Syrian Turkish border


June 17, 2011 – The
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Damascus Center for
Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) are deeply concerned about the violent crackdown
on inhabitants around Syrian Turkish border. 
According to local sources, in the last few days, more than 130 persons
died, 100 were wounded and over 2000 were arbitrarily arrested in the village
of Jisr al-Shoghour and around the city of Idleb. The humanitarian situation is
deteriorating, as Syrian authorities further isolate the population by
regularly interrupting communications networks. Electricity and water supplies
have been interrupted in some cities around Idleb, among other towns in Syria.
More than 8000 Syrians have already fled Syria to find refuge in Turkey, and

many more are waiting on the Turkish border to escape the violent repression
and collective punishment inflicted by the Syrian authorities.

On June 3, 2011,
the city of Jisr al-Shoghour answered the call issued by inhabitants of Hama to
demonstrate, and thousands of Syrians took to the streets. Over 150 military
tanks and 1000 soldiers positioned themselves around the city. Fifteen
helicopters accompanied the ground troops to execute a military operation.
Following the raid, dozens of demonstrators were allegedly killed and some
houses were demolished.

According to the
information received, armed gangs in plain clothes and the Syrian forces,
namely two brigades of the army (brigade 17 and brigade 4, under the control of
Maher al-Assad), fired live ammunition on demonstrators.  and two officers and some soldiers refused to
follow these orders and a number of them left the army to join civilians. The
“moukhabarat” (secret police) allegedly opened fire on 30 of these soldiers.

Between June 3 and
June 6, at least 70 civilians died in the governorate of Idleb, according to
DCHRS, and between June 6 and June 10, 60 peaceful protesters died in Der
al-Zour, Maaret al-Noaman and Jisr al-Shoghour, according to eyewitnesses. It
was also reported by local sources that about 2000 individuals are currently
arbitrarily detained by Syrian forces in the region. The repression continues
to this day as the Syrian army has furthermore announced a larger and harsher
military operation in the near future. The army justified this military
operation by asserting the presence of armed groups across the region who
supposedly try to take control over the province.

The Syrian army
currently besieges at least four villages around the Turkish border (Jisr
al-Shoghour, Marat al-Nooman, Der al-Zour, and Jabel al-zawiya) and a few other
towns across Syria. For more than ten days, some of these towns have had no
access to water, electricity, nor medical supplies. Demonstrators are subjected
to constant acts of intimidation and threats, and wounded civilians are
dissuaded from requiring medical care in hospitals.

In some cases the
Syrian authorities refused humanitarian assistance to the wounded (including
many children), and to other civilians in need of medical treatment. According
to the information received, hospitals around Idleb have notably witnessed
abductions of some of the wounded and some patients have been killed by gunshot
by the Syrian authorities while in their hospital bed.

FIDH recalls that
while the lives of thousands of civilians are endangered by this situation, the
Syrian authorities continue to refuse territorial access to independent human
rights NGOs as well as UN bodies and foreign journalists. This position seems
to merely aim at masking the grave human rights violations committed in Syria

In light of the
abusive use of force and of the intensified crackdown by the Syrian authorities
since March 15, FIDH and DCHRS consider that international crimes are being
perpetrated by the Syrian authorities. These crimes fall under the jurisdiction
of the International Criminal Court (ICC). FIDH and DCHRS reiterate their call
to the international community, in particular to the UN Security Council and
the Arab League, to take immediate action to urge the Syrian authorities to put
an end to the crimes committed against civilians, and to undertake all efforts
to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes.

Press contacts:

Arthur Manet : +33
1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28 42 94

Karine Appy: +33 1
43 55 14 12 / +33 6 48 05 91 57

Twitter: @fidh_ngo