UN’s Colville denounces attacks by Turkey's mercenaries in Syria
Spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that states that support parties to the conflict, even when they are not directly engaged in hostilities, are obliged to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law.
Spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville voiced concerns over worrying developments and their direct impact on civilians despite the fragile ceasefire in northeastern Syria.
Mentioning an indiscriminate use of attacks with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in residential neighborhoods and local markets, Colville stated that these attacks have mainly been carried out in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups.
Colville said they have seen another upsurge of military operations after a relative lull in hostilities in October in areas within the “de-escalation zone” in Idlib and parts of Aleppo.
“We are gravely concerned by the increased use of IEDs in populated areas. Such use may amount to an indiscriminate attack, a serious violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime. Since the ceasefire agreement of 22 October, we have recorded a rise in the number of attacks with IEDs, including with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), in populated areas including residential neighbourhoods and inside at least 12 busy markets and commercial areas in Al-Hassakeh, Ar-Raqqa and Aleppo.”
According to Colville, incidents they have verified indicate there were at least 49 attacks with various types of IEDs between 22 October and 3 December of which 43 were recorded in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups.
“As a result of these attacks, we have recorded at least 78 civilian deaths (including 53 men, seven women and 18 children) and 307 injuries. Seventy-two of the deaths and 258 of the injuries occurred in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups.”
The press statement by the Spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights continued:
“On 26 November, at least 12 civilians including eight men, two women and two boys were killed as a result of what was alleged to be a VBIED that detonated in a residential area in the town of Tel Halaf in rural Ras al-Ain area in al-Hassakeh. On the same day, six civilians including four men and two boys, were killed when a VBIED detonated near a fuel station in the al-Sina’a neighborhood in the city of Tel Abyad in northern Ar-Raqqa.
Despite the ceasefire, intermittent fighting continues to be reported in northeast Syria. On 2 December alone, 10 civilians, including eight boys, were killed and 12 civilians, including two women and seven boys, injured as a result of what were alleged to be ground-based strikes by Turkish affiliated armed groups that hit near a school in a residential neighborhood in the city of Tel Rif’at in northern rural Aleppo. All casualties were internally displaced civilians from Afrin district in northwestern Aleppo and the children killed and injured were 3 – 15 years old.”
Colville underlined that all parties to the conflict must immediately cease and refrain from directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects and from any indiscriminate attacks, and investigate all such incidents.
The Spokesman added: “States that support parties to the conflict, even when they are not directly engaged in hostilities, are obliged to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, in all circumstances. We urge States to take all feasible measures to stop any violations by their allies. We remind all parties to the conflict of their responsibility to protect civilians and to comply with their obligations under international law.”