Russia-backed Syrian regime 'killed 12,700 civilians in 2016': monitor

Russia-backed Syrian regime 'killed 12,700 civilians in 2016': monitor
Data from the Syrian Network for Human Rights shows at least 16,913 civilians died in 2016, with the regime and its Russian ally responsible for around 75 percent of deaths.
2 min read
02 January, 2017
Syrian regime forces were responsible for at least 8,700 civilian deaths in 2016 [Anadolu]
The Syrian regime and its Russian backers were responsible for at least 75 percent of civilian deaths in 2016, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has said.

At least 16,913 civilians died over the last 12 months, the humanitarian watchdog reported, however the actual death toll is likely to be much higher because of the difficulty of documenting victims on all sides of the conflict.

"The report emphasises that Syrian regime forces and Russian forces have violated the international human rights law which guarantees the right to life," a statement on the group's website said.

"Furthermore, evidences and proofs, according to hundreds of eyewitnesses' accounts, suggest that 90 percent at least of the widespread and single attacks were directed against civilians and civil facilities."

The independent group has been documenting deaths in Syria from March 2011 up to the present.

Its latest report identifies regime attacks were responsible for 8,736 deaths, including 1,984 children and 1,237 women, while Russia's involvement accounted for a further 3,967 deaths.

Among the Syrian government's victims were 447 people who died from torture.

About 1,510 civilians were killed at the hands of Islamic State extremists in 2016, the report found, while Fateh al-Sham Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as al-Nusra Front, killed 18 civilians, SNHR said.

Around 1,048 people were killed at the hands of armed opposition factions, while 537 civilians were killed by international coalition forces.

In December, the month which saw Assad's forces launch a devastating and relentless attack on eastern Aleppo, the Russian-backed regime was responsible for 562 of the 827 civilian deaths, or 68 percent.

Four children were killed each day of December by the Syrian army, SNHR said.

The report calls on the UN Security Council and the international community to hold the perpetrators to account over the "ceaseless" killing and to "apply pressure on the Syrian government to stop the deliberate and indiscriminate bombardment of civilians".

It added the regime's allies and financiers including Russia and Shia militias, and IS are legally and judicially responsible for the deaths of thousands of Syrians.

Various estimates have put the nearly six-year war's overall toll at around 400,000 dead.

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution supporting efforts by Russia and Turkey to end the bloody conflict and jumpstart peace negotiations, as a fragile countrywide ceasefire wavered.