Thursday, 05 March 2015 19:18

HRW: Regime Escalating Assault on Rebel-Held District in Homs

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Assad regime is indiscriminately attacking the al-Waer neighborhood in Homs, the last neighborhood of the city still in the hands of rebels, with devastating consequences for the civilian population.

Regime shelling on the area has intensified since the breakdown of talks between the warring parties in early October 2014. Since October 2013, the government has restricted the ability of al-Waer residents to leave the area and has limited, and at times completely blocked, deliveries of humanitarian assistance to the estimated 70,000-100,000 civilians still there. Most recently, on December 16, 2014, an attack left a reported 36 dead including at least 33 civilians.

“While attention has moved on from Homs, tens of thousands of civilians are suffering and others dying in al-Waer,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The Syrian government should not be allowed to use its unlawful siege tactics at such a high price for the civilian population.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed six residents of al-Waer, five of them currently in the neighborhood. Residents said that government attacks on the neighborhood intensified starting October 4, after negotiations broke down. The interviewees described the persistent shelling of residential areas, which they said had no apparent military targets in the vicinity, from nearby government held territory.

Human Rights Watch repeated its call to the UN Security Council to take further action, since the Assad regime has not complied with Security Council Resolution 2139 of February 22, 2014. Security Council action could include referring Syria to the International Criminal Court and imposing an arms embargo on groups, including the government, committing systematic and widespread human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said.

The Syrian Coalition calls on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter so becomes a real obligation for the Assad regime and imposes a fair solution which includes immediate steps to ensure the protection of civilians in Syria in accordance with international law."

“The Assad regime continues to violate truces and agreements held with rebels in many areas across Syria, even those sponsored by international bodies, like what happened in Al Waer district in Homs when regime forces opened fire on convoys of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as they were evacuating civilians,” Meslet said.

“The large-scale successive regime offensives and the war crime that accompany then prove beyond doubt that the Assad regime cannot be trusted as a partner in any political solution," Meslet stressed. (Source: Syrian Coalition)

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