Syria : FIDH urges all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law

Press release
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US-led aistrikes against ISIS targets, in the context of ISIS offensive on Kobani, have led to the death of at least 15 civilians. While ISIS has conducted mass human rights violations in Syria, the protection of civilians must be the international coalition’s priority. FIDH calls on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law.

On 23 September, the US administration confirmed that 14 strikes had been carried out against « so-called » Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) targets in Syria with the support of several Arab States [1]. Syrian human rights groups have reported large explosions in Raqqa, Aleppo (including Idleb governorate) and Hassakeh provinces. According to Syrian NGOs [2], at least 15 persons, most of them civilians, including 4 children were killed in Idleb countryside-Kafr Daryan village as a consequence of the air-strikes.

« Most heinous crimes against civilians have been perpetrated by ISIS fighters in Syria or Iraq who have continuously demonstrated complete disregard for human life. Nonetheless it is intolerable that a coalition formed to combat terrorism be responsible for the killing of civilians. Such incidents will only fuel more violations of humanitarian and human rights law by parties to the conflict. The international community’s response to the conflict in Syria and Iraq should in priority be the protection of civilians », recalled Karim Lahidji, FIDH President, in his meeting with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs at the UN General Assembly in New-York, this morning.
FIDH recalls that on 15 August 2014, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2170 [3] which reaffirms that the States must ensure that any measures to combat terrorism is carried out in compliance with all their obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law [4].

Since 14 September, heavy fighting has dramatically increased between ISIS and the Syrian Kurdish armed forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Kobani countryside, also known as Ayn al-’Arab. Despite difficult monitoring of the situation on the ground, FIDH has received reliable information about civilian casualties during shelling as well as attacks against civilians by ISIS fighters. Attacks with heavy artillery on villages and burning of houses have also been reported in several villages. [5]
Kobani has been besieged by non-state armed groups including ISIS for more than a year and civilians in Kobani have faced very harsh living conditions as a consequence of the siege. Grave human rights abuses including the abduction of civilians by ISIS have been regularly reported in the region.

« The fate of civilians anywhere in Syria is unbearable. The ongoing violent fighting following ISIS offensive on Kobani is of particular concern », Karim Lahidji added.
At least 130,000 civilians, mainly Kurdish, who comprise the majority in this Syrian region, are considered to have fled their homes and to have reached the Syrian-Turkish border, after ISIS seized more than 60 villages near the city of Kobani. If confirmed, this would constitute one of most important mass displacement of Syrian civilians since 2011. Refugees are in urgent need of humanitarian aid while, according to information received, they are mostly relying on local solidarity.

FIDH urges the international community to protect the Syrian refugees and provide them with adequate living conditions.

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