The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) issued its 18th annual report on the situation of human rights in Syria for the year 2019. The report documents the violations that Syria witnessed during the year in detail, based on the violations databases which SHRC updates daily.
The report shows that the killing and genocide of Syrians has continued for the ninth year in a row, highlighting a noticeable decline in the number of victims and massacres compared to previous years. Genocide was receded to the northern region and partly in the eastern region, after it had spread over wider geographical areas in previous years.
The report documents the killing of 3522 people throughout the year, at a monthly rate of 293 people, equivalent to half of the registered number of victims in 2018, of 7064 people.
The documentation of the victims also showed that approximately 60% of the victims in 2019 were in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo alone, while the provinces of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and al-Hasakeh recorded an estimated 25% of the victims.
SHRC documented the perpetration of 118 massacres in 2019, equivalent to 43% of massacres documented in 2018, and 25% of documented massacres in 2017; 70% of these massacres occurred in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib alone .
Of the most prominent weapons used for killings this year have been: car bombs, motorcycle bombs and explosive devices (IEDs), a clear increase in their usage compared to previous years. These weapons came second after regime-inflicted massacres, being the cause for approximately 20% of massacres.
These explosions were concentrated in areas controlled by armed factions, given that over 80% of them occurred in those areas, whilst the rest occurred mostly in Kurdish-controlled areas of eastern and north-eastern Syria.
Most of the bombing targeted civilian areas and public places, such as crowded markets, or areas near vital institutions such as hospitals and mosques; implying the strategy of the perpetrators being to cause the largest number of victims possible.
SHRC has documented 337 deaths in assassination works this year, the highest rate of assassinated victims since 2011. The perpetrators of all assassinations to date remain unknown, given the weak security structure in the areas where the assassination activities occurred.
The year 2019 saw a continued targeting of markets, drawing to the strategy of the perpetrators to inflict the greatest harm possible upon civilians in urban areas, which is an integrated war crime.
According to SHRC, 40 popular markets were targeted in 2019, all of which were in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, except one in Raqqa province.
The report highlights the continued targeting of medical and emergency sectors in Syria. SHRC has documented the targeting of 73 hospitals and health centres this year, compared to 57 similar targets during 2018.
This year 14 civil defence centres were targeted, killing 16 civil defence members and wounding another 37 elements. SHRC also documented the targeting of 48 ambulances and rescue vehicles.
The targeting of media workers in Syria has continued for the ninth year in a row. SHRC documented the killing of 8 journalists and media activists and the injury of 26 of them, most of which were a result of indiscriminate shelling, or due to bombardment and shooting whilst covering the clashes.
The education sector in Syria has continued to bear the impacts of the violations and crimes committed over the past nine years. SHRC documented the targeting of 177 schools in 2019, a significant increase from 2018 where SHRC documented the targeting of 64 schools only.
The year 2019 saw a significant increase in the number of targeted mosques compared to 2018, where SHRC documented 162 mosques targeted compared to the 61 mosques in 2018. This sharp rise came despite the decrease in the intensity and scope of hostilities this year.
The targeting of mosques was concentrated in Idlib province, where 90% of the documented strikes were recorded there. The regime and Russian forces were responsible for over 77% of the targeting, most of which occurred as a result of indiscriminate shelling and targeting cities outside of regime control in northern Syria.
The rate of arrests by regime apparatuses and other actors in Syria decreased during 2019 compared to previous years, but the file of detainees and enforced disappearances from previous years has not seen any improvement.
Throughout 2019, cases of death under torture in Syrian regime prisons continued to be recorded, most of whom were victims arrested throughout the past nine years. The traces of many persons were lost in the period between 2011-2014, and the regime’s policy has been to inform their families of the deaths in previous years. As such, SHRC has documented 261 people killed under torture in 2019, most of them from previous years.
The tragedy of the Syrian refugees continued to top the list of refugee crises around the world, as in 2019, Syrian refugees remain the largest group among all refugees around the world.
In its report, SHRC highlights the worst conditions Syrians in Lebanon face compared to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and around the world. Syrians in Lebanon are exposed to increasing violations by the state, semi-governmental and private groups, including the increased use of hate language against refugees by Lebanese politicians and media.
According to the report, most IDP camps in Syria have witnessed difficult conditions during this year, as most of these camps lack direct care by international organisations that have the acquired capabilities to set up proper camps. Therefore, IDPs residing in these camps suffer from extreme heat during the summer, including dust and diseases that occur therein, whilst facing difficult living conditions in the winter, both in terms of severe cold with associated diseases or in terms of the torrents that flood the camps every year, or even snow upon heavy downfall.
In addition to the above, Al-Hawl camp for the displaced in the eastern countryside of al-Hasakeh province faced intolerable living conditions . This was brought by SDF imposing a siege on the camp, preventing IDPs from leaving despite many of its residents having the ability to return to their homes after the end of ISIS control of the eastern region.
It is worth noting that SHRC is an independent organisation, founded in 1997, based in London, and is among the first Syrian human rights organisations. SHRC has been issuing an annual report on the human rights situation in Syria since 2001.