The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) has issued its 20th report on the human rights situation in Syria. The report documents in detail the violations that Syria witnessed during the year.
The report documents the death of 1237 people in 2021, wherein the governorate of Daraa exceeds all other governorates in the number of victims, followed by Deir ez-Zor, thereafter Aleppo and Idlib.
With the gradual decline in the number of casualties in Syria over the past years, the direct responsibility of the perpetrators has also declined. SHRC’s documentation reveals that the Assad regime along with its foriegn allies in the first place, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ISIS and the international coalition to a lesser degree, and then other actors were all officially responsible for a total of 48% of the victims that fell in 2021. Whilst those responsible for the remainder of the victims killed by explosions, landmines and assassinations, remain formerly unknown and unclaimed.
The report documents 81 explosions in 2021, in comparison to the 100 documented explosions that took place in 2020. Similar to the previous year, most explosions in 2021 took place in Aleppo’s suburbs under the control of the National Army who are in opposition to the Assad regime. Aleppo’s suburbs witnessed 75% of the explosions whilst 10% of them took place in Idlib, and the remaining explosions took place across regions either under regime control or under SDF control.
The report further documents 376 assassinations in 2021, in comparison to the 348 assassinations in 2020, 337 assassinations in 2019 and 84 assassinations in 2018.
As per SHRC’s documentation, the targeting of public markets, commercial and industrial areas continued, albeit at a lower rate compared to previous years. SHRC documented 20 attacks on marketplaces and commercial areas, in contrast to the 31 attacks documented in 2020, and 40 attacks documented in 2019.
The report documents 169 people killed by landmines in 2021. Most of the landmines are believed to have been planted in previous years and primarily by ISIS.
The report further documents the targeting of five hospitals and healthcare centres in Syria this year, as well as the death of five cadres who had worked in the emergency response and the injuries of 15 others. In addition to the targeting of six ambulances and rescue vehicles.
According to the report, the direct targeting of media professionals with intention to kill decreased significantly, where SHRC documented one killing of a journalist in 2021. However, the report reflected the continuation of repressive measures on media professionals in Syria from all the actors and factions on ground. As such, SHRC documented the detention of 33 media professionals in 2021, where SDF was responsible for the largest number of arrests, detaining 19 media professionals, followed by the regime’s security services who arrested seven media professionals, Tahrir al-Sham arrested six whilst the opposition’s National Army arrested one media professional.
The Assad regime continued their policy of arbitrary arrests throughout the year, albeit at a decreasing rate than the previous year. Areas that had undergone ‘reconciliations’ with the regime, namely the governorate of Daraa and Rif Dimashq were the primary targets for arbitrary arrests, as the two governorates witnessed the largest number of arrests in 2021, respectively, as per the documentation of SHRC. SHRC also documented a rise in the arrests under the control of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration, at a rate equal to or greater than that within the regime-controlled areas. They further documented cases of arbitrary arrests in the regions controlled by the National Army and Tahrir al-Sham, albeit at much lower rates than those by the regime and the Autonomous Administration.
The report notes that the number of Syrian refugees has relatively stabilised since 201, as a result of the cessation of major military operations. However, this stability, with the continued increase albeit at decreasing rates, reveals the weak rates of “refugee return”, a project that Russia has adopted since 2018 and has sought to promote on both media and political levels.
As per the report, the year 2021 was marked by the legal movement across many European countries, especially Germany, in puttin on trial those accused of war crimes in Syria.
The year 2021 also witnessed a continuation of the international sanctions mechanisms that have been in force since 2011, if at an imposition pace relatively weaker than previous years.
It should be noted that the Syrian Human Rights Committee is an independent organisation, established in 1997, with its headquarters in London, and is one of the first Syrian human rights organisations. SHRC has issued an annual report on the human rights situation in Syria periodically, since 2001.