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2017 | UN General Assembly, Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, A/HRC/36/55

Investigations conducted in Syria by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (the Commission) between March and July 2017, show that primarily, civilians are affected countrywide. In this timeframe, all warring parties continued to attack the civilian population by laying sieges to encircled communities. In order to erode the viability of life in opposition controlled areas and compel surrender, the sieges are characterized by denial of delivery of vital humanitarian aid (food, health care etc.), indiscriminate attacks and deliberate attacks targeting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals. The civilian population was not spared either where local truces were concluded since incorporated evacuation agreements practically entailed their forced displacement. This lead the Commission to conclude that violence throughout the Syrian Arab Republic continues to be waged in blatant violation of basic international humanitarian and human rights law.

Terrorist groups, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and armed groups targeted religious minorities through car and suicide bombings, the use of snipers and hostage-taking. Among the most vulnerable were internally displaced persons and children from previously besieged areas.

Government forces continued using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas, killing dozens, the majority of whom were women and children. Moreover, Syrian and/or Russian forces continued to target hospitals and medical personnel.

In the present report, the Commission also expresses its grave concern about the impact of international coalition air strikes on civilians. In Aleppo, forces of the United States of America failed to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects when attacking a mosque, in violation of international humanitarian law. In other regions, military activities by the Syrian Democratic Forces and the international coalition offensive to repel ISIL have resulted in the displacement, killing and injury of civilians.