As many as 17 Syrian rights groups and civil society organizations called on the US-led coalition forces to place respect for basic human rights at the top of their priorities as military operations in Deir Ezzor province continue to cause mounting civilian casualties.
“At least 329 civilians, including 81 children and 59 women, have been killed in intensive airstrikes on various areas of Deir Ezzor province since August 2017 until the end of September 2017,” said the NGOs and rights group in a joint statement on Tuesday. The Assad regime and its Russia ally were responsible for the majority of the civilian deaths.
The statement added: “The ongoing military operations in Deir Ezzor have caused an unprecedented exodus of civilians from the province while hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result of aerial bombardment by forces of the Assad regime, Russia, and the international anti-ISIS coalition.”
“The cities, towns, and villages of Deir Ezzor province have been affected by fierce military operations, especially following the escalation of aerial bombardment and the race to capture ISIS-held territory,” the statement added.
“Whole towns and villages south of the Euphrates River have been entirely deserted as at least 40% of the houses and shops there are now destroyed or partially damaged.”
“The attacking forces must ensure that no children participate in military actions for any purpose and seek the opening of safe routes to facilitate the exit of civilians to camps where human dignity is respected and free movement of IDPs is guaranteed,” the statement went on.
The NGOs and rights groups urged the US-led coalition and local partners to abide by international law, especially the war laws during military operations; take all necessary precautions to avoid causing civilian casualties; and conduct transparent investigations into the airstrikes and attacks that left civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Coalition condemned “the series of brutal massacres claiming the lives of scores of civilians that have been committed by forces of the Russian occupation, the Assad regime, the Iranian terrorist militias, and the ISIS extremist group in Deir Ezzor province over the past few days.”
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Syrian Coalition reiterated its calls on the UN Security Council and UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to take the necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians; stop these crimes; and bring perpetrators to justice. It also called for the unification of efforts to combat terrorism, dry up its sources, and hold to account those who planned for the spread of terrorism and helped it thrive. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Baladi News Network)