Statement from the Syrian Civil Defense on the military escalation in Northern Syria

The areas in Northern Syria have witnessed relative calm during the past few months. This came as a result of the last de-escalation agreement and halting combat, which resulted in an improvement in humanitarian conditions in all areas. However, in the past few days, starting on 12 February 2019, the towns and villages in the Syrian north, especially Idlib county side, have been subject to an aggressive shelling campaign that targeted civilians. The shelling resulted in 35 fatalities, which included 11 women and 13 children, in addition to 75 injuries, including 9 women and 22 children. The shelling utilized various types of weapons. 456 artillery and missiles were documented, as well as 52 sub-munitions.

The campaign focused on towns and villages that are densely populated, in Hama and Idlib. This resulted in massacres against civilians, in addition to targeting 3 schools, the destruction of a bread bakery in Khan Shaikhon as well as fires and destruction to houses, properties and public facilities, not to mention the displacement of a large number of civilians away from their towns and villages.

This military escalation, and the latest offensives, are considered a war crime, not to mention being a crime against humanity because shelters, civilian and residential areas were targeted. In addition, this breaches the multiple de-escalation agreements that have been reached by the three guarantor states who also foster the Astana route. This also hinders the efforts to reach a political solution and silences the Syrian dialogue which the mediating states and the United Nations have been trying to achieve.

It is worth noting that Northern Syria has now become an area of refuge for almost 4 million people displaced from all over Syria. The targeting of any area in the North will result in massacres and great human loss. Protecting those civilians is an international duty. Therefore, the guarantors of the Syrian Regime should assume their responsibilities in enforcing an immediate seize fire, as well as enforcing all the UN resolutions on protecting civilians and reaching a political solution in Syria.

The Syrian Civil Defense reiterates that it continues to work in full capacity, overcoming all obstacles to reach our fellow Syrians and provide all the help that we can offer.

The Syrian Civil Defense
20 February 2019