Deir Ezzor governorate has been subjected to extensive destruction and thousands of casualties during the past twelve years. Casualties began with direct fire by the security forces during peaceful demonstrations against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. The number of casualties increased after the armed conflict began between the anti-Assad military forces and the Syrian military with loyalists’ military groups, and later backed by the Russian forces and foreign militias that supported the Syrian military’s operations.
In this report, JFL documented (6) cases of aerial bombardment on different areas of Deir Ezzor between 2012 and 2017. The report was done by interviewing survivors of the bombing and reviewing videos and photos from open sources.
International humanitarian law protects civilians in times of conflict as well as civilian objects. This report provides further evidence of the failure of various conflict parties to respect this protection.
Rule 5 of the ICRC study of customary international humanitarian law defines civilians as: “persons who are not members of the armed forces, and the term “civilian population” includes all civilian persons”. Rule 8 from the same study defines civilian military targets as: “In so far as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose partial or total destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage”. Rule 9 of the same study states that “Civilian objects are all objects that are not military objectives”.
The Syrian case is not within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court because Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute establishing the court, besides the inability of the Security Council to refer the file to the court as a result of Russian objections. And with time, the evidence is decreasing. Hence the continued documentation and preservation of evidence is important as it allows survivors to benefit from it, whether at courts that could be formed in the future for violations in Syria or in countries implementing the universal jurisdiction.
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