Thousands of Syrian civilians killed by mines during war: report
Thousands of civilians have been killed by mines during Syria's civil war, a rights group said on the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on Tuesday.
At least 3,353 people lost their lives from March 2011 - the month the conflict started - up until Tuesday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said.
These include 889 children and 335 women, according to the Paris-based group's report, while eight medics, seven civil defence workers, and nine journalists were also killed.
SNHR director Fadel Abdel Ghany said: "Determining the locations where the minefields are located in Syria took a lot of effort.
"We hope that the maps that we presented in the report will be utilised so that the population avoids being on or working in these lands, and that the dominant powers will fence off these lands and work seriously to remove the mines from them."
He also expressed hope "the donor countries will pay attention to this serious issue".
Of the casualties, 2,971 were killed by landmine explosions and another 382 perished due to the remnants of cluster munitions, attributed to the Syrian regime and its key ally Russia.
Aleppo, Raqqa and Deir Az-Zour provinces made up almost 65 percent of landmine deaths. These governorates have seen some of the war's heaviest fighting and many civilians have died searching for truffles in minefields.
The deadliest year for landmine casualties was 2017, when 822 people (27.67 percent of the total of 2,971) lost their lives.
Cluster munitions are bombs that let out smaller explosive devices.
They "pose an immediate threat to civilians during conflict by randomly scattering submunitions or bomblets over a wide area", according to Human Rights Watch's website.
The SNHR's report comes after the Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC) recently revealed the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad used minesweepers to bombard opposition towns and kill civilians.
The UR-77 and UR-83P mine clearance vehicles were frequently deployed during indiscriminate attacks on opposition-held towns in the Damascus region between 2014 and 2019, a tactic that is illegal under international law.
Designed for minefields, these vehicles fire a projectile fitted with high explosives into the area containing mines or IEDs, which is then detonated via a fuse attached to the vehicles from a safe distance.
The Syrian regime instead used these as a weapon of war against opposition towns, the SJAC revealed, leaving whole families buried under the rubble of their homes with no chance of rescue.
The centre documented 30 cases of UR-77s and UR-83Ps being used across Syria between 2014 and 2019, via videos and images. However, it focused on four of 15 cases with the clearest visual evidence for the report.
The war in Syria, which has been ongoing for over a decade, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Millions of people have been displaced – both internally and as refugees elsewhere.
The conflict began with attempts to suppress anti-regime demonstrations.