Aryam Farouk – Deir Ezzor
Unexploded remnants of war leave their impact on civilians in northeastern Syria and turn into a daily nightmare. Almost every week, reports of injury or death from a projectile or mine explosion. The areas with the most casualties from the explosion of remnants of war are those that have witnessed long-standing military battles and shelling, where thousands of unexploded shells and planted mines causing daily bleeding and hindering the expansion of service delivery along with the return of displaced civilians to their areas.
What are Explosive Remnants of War?
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the term describes ” wide range of explosive ordnance – unexploded or abandoned – that remains in an area after an armed conflict has ended.” According to the ICRC, these objects include ” artillery shells, grenades, mortar shells, submunitions, rockets, missiles and other explosive devices”.
Victims of Remnants of War
The number of child victims of war remnants is high and this is due to their lack of awareness of what unexploded shells is, how dangerous it is, and how to deal with it, which makes them more vulnerable.
During interviews made by the author of the article, a number of witnesses spoke of the widespread prevalence of these unexploded shells and recklessness in dealing with them, and the large number of injuries and deaths they cause.
The 15-year-old S.A. did not know he was going to kill members of his family for tampering with an unexploded object. He brought a projectile head and found it while playing with his friends in the village and put it under the fireplace for the purpose of dissolving it, which exploded and killed all those in the room.
An Exclusive photo for two exploded missiles and remnants of war – 6 January 2022.
While an explosive object amputated the feet of the 9-year-old M.K.D., the child was found while grazing sheep in his village in Hasaka province, which, like other Syrian areas, was the scene of conflicts that left behind a lot of war remnants. He carried them and hit them with stone, which led to their explosion and amputation of his feet in addition to some wounds and burns in his body.
H.B., a 33-year-old herding man, found a landmine in the village’s desert in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, which is filled with war remnants. He hit the mine with stone to break it and remove explosive materials inside it to be used for fishing, and the mine immediately exploded and one of his feet was amputated.
Despite its danger, many children and their relatives collect scrap from landfills as a profession from which to earn their day’s living, due to the fact that they contain remnants of war from which they can take copper out and sell it.
A number of children in a village in the Deir Ezzor countryside found a foreign object in a landfill, which they hit, killing four of them and amputating another’s hand.
An exclusive photo for tools that are used to help in exploding the primary or locally-used mines – 6 January 2022
Figures on War Remnant’ Injuries
After 10 years of conflict in Syria, the ICRC has shown that more than 11 million people are at risk of war remnants from landmines and other explosive objects, and that large areas of Syria have been turned into minefields.
In a confirmation of the commission’s statement, a report by Justice for Life entitled “Exorbitant Price of War” that stated that 20 percent of the war casualties documented by the organization in Deir Ezzor governorate were caused only by landmine explosions.
“Civilians are the main victims of weapons, accounting for eight out of ten victims, and children make up at least half of those killed or maimed,” a UN report said.
An exclusive photo for remnants of war – 6 January 2022
These injuries affect the ability to move, stand, play and work, as well as the psychological repercussions of depression and constant anger, and other economic loss of employment opportunities and high medical treatment costs.
Areas of Spread of War Remnants
The most prominent areas of spread of these remnants in northern and eastern Syria are the city of Deir Ezzor and its eastern countryside, especially areas of Hajin, Al-Shafa, Al Sousse, and Baghuz), which until 2019 witnessed the recent battles to drive out ISIS. Additionally, the areas of Raqqa city, its countryside and al-Hasakah countryside also suffer from a heavy spread of these war remnants and mines. These objects are frequently found on the outskirts of the Euphrates River, in wells and some abandoned buildings that have used as military headquarters, trenches, bridges and transit areas.
Mines cripple the road network and access to major tourist and economic sites, as well as reduce access to basic needs.
Role of Local Organizations and Authorities
Many campaigns are being carried out with the aim of removing war remnants from time to time and effective steps have been taken to reduce the phenomenon of their spread and reduce the risk to the civilian population. Local authorities in northern and eastern Syria and organizations working in the field of awareness and demining are promoting awareness among the population about how to deal with these munitions and residues and stay away from them and their whereabouts, in addition to avoiding abandoned areas and military sites.
“Our mobile teams are conducting awareness-raising operations for civilians at risk of these remnants by raising awareness about the dangers of them and how to deal with them, taking precautions and staying away from their whereabouts,” worker at Action For Humanity in northern and eastern Syria said.
“NTS teams are working on non-technical surveys and mapping of contaminated areas, and removal teams will later remove these residues through the technical survey, where they are destroyed and removed professionally,” he said.
However, many of those affected by the explosion complain of a lack of medical support, with the exception of some organizations that have devoted part of their work to physical and psychological therapy.
According to Justice for Life documentations, 68% of war casualties carry medical treatment costs. JFL said in a report that the spread of remnants of war threatens a significant increase in the number of casualties, that poor financial means to help war-wounded and the small number of specialist doctors increase the burden of injuries on the injured and their families.
In 2003, a protocol on ERW was adopted, which came into force in 2006 and was attached to an agreement prohibiting or restricting the use of certain traditional weapons that could be considered excessively harmful or indiscriminate.
 Explosive remnants of war: the lethal legacy of modern armed conflict, ICRC, October 2007.
 The author of the article had difficulties in reaching witnesses due to the declining security situation in northern and eastern Syria. Witnesses requested that their personal information are to be concealed.
 The author of article conducted (4) face-to-face interviews with witnesses and relatives of victims in the area of Al-Sour and the village of Al-Boumsa’a in the countryside of Deir Ezzor, and the town of Tel Tamr in Al-Hasakah countryside.
 ICRC Calls for Durable Solution to Weapons Contamination in Syria, April 2021.
 Exorbitant Price of War, Justice for Life, March 2021.
 Landmine casualties ‘exceptionally high’, Syria and Afghanistan worst-hit, UN News, November 2021.
 The interview was held face-to-face on 1 February 2022.
 Demining teams working with Action for Humanity
 Exorbitant Price of War, Justice for Life, March 2021.
 The protocol transcript.
 The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on 1981.