The Syrian Network for Human Rights published on Monday its periodic death toll report for the month of December 2017 in which it documented the killing of 10,204 civilians at the hands of the parties to the conflict in Syria in the year 2017.
The report highlighted the comprehensive ceasefire that was announced from the Turkish capital Ankara under a Russian-Turkish sponsorship on December 30, 2016. The signing parties, the Syrian regime on one side and armed opposition factions on the other side, agreed to cease all armed attacks in the majority of the Syrian region. The military areas controlled by ISIS were excluded from the agreement.
The report adds that Ankara Ceasefire Agreement was followed by seven rounds of talks that were held in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, between Russian, Turkish, and Iranian representatives as the states who sponsored Ankara Ceasefire Agreement. These rounds -the most recent of which was on October 30-31, 2017- discussed mostly, in parallel with a number of local agreements, ways to further establish de-escalation zones in Idlib governorate and the surrounding areas (parts of Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia governorates), northern Homs governorate, Eastern Ghouta, and parts of Daraa and Quneitra governorates in south Syria. Additionally, the talks addressed ways to deliver humanitarian aids and enable IDPs to return to those areas.
Since these agreements went into effect, the included areas saw a relatively good and noticeable drop in killing rates in relation to the past months since March 2011.
The report notes that these agreements reflected on the civilians’ lives in most of the included areas, as patients were able to go to hospitals and medical points, and many children went back to school after their families prevented them out of fear for their lives in light of the repeated bombing that targeted schools, as well as hospitals. Markets became more active, and many infrastructure services were restored thanks to a number of maintenance campaigns. Nonetheless, breaches didn’t stop, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be most affected should the ceasefire go on, and in particular extrajudicial killing crimes and, more horrendously, deaths due to torture. This strongly asserts that there is a ceasefire of some sort on the table, but the crimes that the international community -especially the guarantors- won’t see are still going on as nothing had changed.
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance have initiated a vicious offensive against Eastern Ghouta on the 14th of last November despite a de-escalation agreement that was reached in Eastern Ghouta between Jaish al Islam, an armed opposition faction, and Russian forces under an Egyptian sponsorship on Saturday, July 22, 2017, and was followed by a similar agreement with Failaq al Rahman faction that established the faction’s inclusion in the de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.
Furthermore, the report notes that SNHR team encounters difficulties in documenting victims from armed opposition factions as many of those victims are killed on battlefronts and not inside cities. Also, we aren’t able to obtain details such as names, pictures and other important details on account of the armed opposition forces’ unwillingness to reveal such information for security concerns among other reasons. Therefore, the actual number of victims is much greater than what is being recorded.
The report records that 10,204 civilians, including 2,298 children and 1,536 women, have been killed in 2017 at the hands of the parties to the conflict. Syrian regime forces killed 4,148 civilians, including 754 children and 591 women, while 211 victims died due to torture at the hands of Syrian regime forces. Russian forces killed 1,436 civilians, including 439 children and 284 women, whereas Self-Management forces killed 316 civilians, including 58 children, 54 women, and five who died due to torture.
According to the report, international coalition forces killed 1,759 civilians, including 521 children and 332 women, in 2017 while ISIS killed 1,421 civilians, including 281 children, 148 women and one victim who die due to torture. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham killed 25 civilians, including two children, one woman, and four who died due to torture.
The report also notes that factions from the armed opposition killed 186 civilians in 2017, including 45 children, 29 women, and seven who died due to torture while 913 civilians, including 198 children, 97 women, and four who died due to torture, were killed by other parties.
According to the report, Damascus and its suburbs saw the most deaths with 2019 civilians killed since the start of 2017, followed by Raqqa governorate with 1,512 civilians.