Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seven months on: Enforce UNSCR 2139

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2139, adopted on 22 February this year, included a demand for an end to indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment of populated areas, particularly the use of barrel bombs.

Since that demand was made, over 4,400 civilians have been killed by Assad’s air force. Despite the US-led intervention in Syria, Assad’s helicopters are still dropping barrel bombs. Yesterday, Monday 29 September, saw reports of government helicopters attacking Khan AsalHriytan, and Qarah in Aleppo province, dropping barrel bombs on Bait Jin and other locations in Damascus suburbs, and on Inkhel in Daraa, and on Kafr-Zeita, and so on and on. More reports are coming in of fatal barrel bomb attacks today.

The US-led Coalition strikes against ISIS/ISIL/IS and others in Syria have added 27 civilians killed to the toll. What they haven’t done is acted to stop regime attacks on civilians.

Stopping air attacks on residential areas would be a relatively straightforward task for Security Council members. President Obama has been quoted by the New York Times as saying it would be easier to “wipe out” Syrian air defences than hit ISIS, the current target of US action in Syria.

UNSC Resolution 2139 requested the UN Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the resolution in 30 days of its adoption, and every 30 days thereafter, and expressed the Security Council’s intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance.

Since then, the Secretary-General has as requested provided the Security Council with seven detailed reports . The latest report, dated 24 September, included the following:
Air strikes, shelling and indiscriminate barrel bomb attacks by government forces continued on opposition-held areas, notably in Aleppo and Damascus governorates, resulting in a high number of civilian casualties. In Aleppo, government forces reportedly continued their campaign of barrel bomb attacks, which has been ongoing since mid-December 2013. OHCHR received reports that at least 55 civilians, including 17 children and 7 women, were killed as a result of such attacks between 19 August and 3 September. In Damascus governorate, government forces reportedly intensified attacks against the opposition-held areas of Joubar and several locations in eastern Ghouta. Reports indicate that Joubar was subjected to dozens of air raids and heavy shelling on 2 and 3 September, resulting in the death of at least 10 civilians, while aerial bombardment by government forces reportedly killed at least 120 people and injured hundreds of people in Douma (eastern Ghouta).

Dar`a, Hama and Idlib governorates have also been severely affected by indiscriminate attacks by government forces. For example, in Dar`a governorate, an analysis by the Operational Satellite Applications Programme of satellite imagery collected on 5 September indicated ongoing bombardment of the city of Dar`a, most likely, in some instances, by barrel bombs. Possible damage is visible elsewhere in the city and is likely the result of conventional artillery, light air-dropped munitions or other causes. According to information gathered by OHCHR, on 30 August 2014, missile attacks by government forces on the city of Saraqib (Idlib), reportedly led to the death of at least 15 people, including 8 children and 4 women. Another reported missile attack by government forces, on 3 September, in the town of Naqir (Idlib), led to the death of five civilians. In Hama, 16 civilians were reportedly killed by shelling in Tal Khaznah

The Security Council’s failure to take any further steps to stop air attacks on civilians is an abdication of its responsibility.

The US-led coalition’s ongoing failure to act against the Assad air force’s ongoing massacre of civilians is a betrayal of humanity.

Ground Assad’s air force. Stop the barrel bombs. Enforce UNSCR 2139.

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