As the war in Syria grinds on without end in sight, more than 12 million Syrians are now forcibly displaced from their homes, a rights group said.
In a report released on Tuesday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that thousands of residents of Alwaer neighborhood in Homs have recently joined over 12 million Syrians who were forced out of their homes since the conflict began in March 2011.
The report, titled “No Options at Hand”, indicated that bombing carried out by the Assad regime on the rebellious areas in the early days of the popular uprising in March 2011 was a major cause of forced displacement of the local population. Arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance the Assad regime is pursuing to quell the revolution have also forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
According to the report, the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian allies are responsible for at least 85 percent of the forced displacement operations in Syria.
The ISIS extremist group and the militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were also responsible of the forced displacement of thousands of Syrians.
The overwhelming majority of forced displacement operations cannot be justified by military necessity or for the aim of protecting civilians as regime forces still prevent the return of those who were displaced to their homes. Moreover, many of those who were displaced cannot return to their homes for fear of detention or execution by regime forces.
The rights group pointed out that many of the forced displacement operations carried out by the Assad regime were of a sectarian nature. The ISIS extremist group has also forced thousands of civilians out of their homes for purely sectarian and ethnic motives when attacking the predominantly Christian and Kurdish areas, the rights group added.
The report added that the forced displacement operations carried out by the PYD militias had an element of ethnic nature as they targeted Sunni Arab area.
The bombing campaign being carried out by the international anti-ISIS coalition forces has led to further displacement of civilians, the report added.
The report listed human rights violations committed by regime forces in Alwaer district in the period between March 2011 and March 2017.
Helicopters of the Assad regime have dropped over 152 barrel bombs on the rebel-held district since March 2011, the Network said.
The rights group stressed that the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) explicitly prohibits forced displacement expect in certain circumstances when it is intended to protect civilians. It noted that the mass forced displacement of civilians amounts to a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)