The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) issued its nineteenth annual report on the human rights situation in Syria. The report showed the continuation of hostilities in Syria in 2020, but they witnessed a significant decrease compared to previous years, which was reflected in the decrease in the severity of the grave violations that Syria has seen since 2011.
The decline in these hostilities came as a result of two main factors:
The first: The regime’s control, backed by Russian and Iranian forces, and other allied militias, over most of the opposition areas, except for the northern region, in which the opposition – supported by Turkish forces – controls about 10% of the Syrian territory.
The second: the relative stability of the ceasefire agreement in Idlib, which was based on the “Moscow Memorandum” signed in March 2020 between Russia and Turkey. The ceasefire has survived in a way or another from then until the release of this report.
In 2020, SHRC documented 1,750 deaths among civilians, compared with 3,522 in 2019 and 7,064 in 2018.
Idlib governorate came at the forefront of the Syrian governorates in the number of victims in 2020, which reached 477 people, followed by Aleppo Governorate, which reached 414 people. It is noted that these two governorates (in addition to small parts of Latakia countryside) include the remaining areas that are under the control of the armed opposition.
SHRC also documented 51 massacres in 2020, compared to 118 massacres in 2019, 270 in 2018, and 457 massacres in 2017.
Parallel to the marked decrease in combat operations, and the subsequent decrease or halt of air strikes targeting civilians, bombings targeting civilians have increased, which are bombings that no party can assume responsibility for, and those involved in their execution are rarely arrested.
In 2020, the policy of direct assassinations continued with the same high rate that was recorded last year. As SHRC documented this year the assassination of 348 people in 2020, compared to 337 people in 2019, while only 84 people were documented assassinated in 2018.
Despite the decline in combat operations in most of the Syrian territories this year, the rate of targeting markets and other commercial and industrial areas has not seen a significant change. SHRC has documented only (31) targets, compared to (40) targets in 2019 and (37) in 2018.
This year, SHRC documented the targeting of (21) hospitals and health centres, compared to the targeting of (73) hospitals and health centres during 2019.
It also documented the targeting of (14) civil defence centres, the killing of two civil defence personnel, and the wounding of (32) others. It also documented the targeting of (9) ambulances and rescue vehicles.
The year 2020 witnessed a decline in the number of murders of journalists and media activists, after years of Syria’s permanent position on top of the world in this index. This year, SHRC documented the killing of five media professionals and the injury of five others.
In 2020, SHRC documented the targeting of 42 schools and 45 mosques.
The Syrian regime forces and security services continued their systematic policy of arresting and hiding tens of thousands of Syrians. In addition to the regime forces, SHRC has documented widespread violations in this context by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which control the east of the Euphrates region, in addition to the National Army that controls northern Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) that controls Idlib.
This year, SHRC documented the arrest of 267 people by the regime forces, the arrest of 173 people by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the arrest of 36 people by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and the arrest of 29 people by the National Army factions.
SHRC also documented the continuing violations of the rights of refugees and displaced persons, especially as a result of the difficult humanitarian conditions imposed by the marked decline of international support and the decrease in the resources of charitable societies that work for them in the neighbouring countries and inside Syria.
Lebanon has witnessed, as in previous years, the worst situation for Syrian refugees compared to the rest of the countries hosting them, as the refugees face a mixture of violations by government agencies, the army, various security forces and Hezbollah militias, in addition to violations committed by segments of society, in addition to economic and living conditions afflicting the poor segments in Lebanon.