The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Syrian Revolution 13 years on | Syrian regime hinders political solutions…confused opposition… dispersed people

For 13 years since the outbreak of the Syrian Revolution preceded by a long era of dictatorship practiced by Al-Assad’s family and covered by fake claims of stability and safety, Syrians have offered precious sacrifices and been deprived of their rights to choose their president through transparent and fair elections with the participation of all segments of the Syrian society and parties.


No one in Syria could escape from the systematic destruction by Al-Assad’s thugs and rebel factions that killed tens of thousands of innocent Syrians, forced millions others to displace, looted civilian properties and assaulted and abused women in light of the “law of jungle” and the international community’s inability to contain the situation and reach solutions that could probably put an end to the war through implementing international resolutions, mainly the Resolution No. 2254, and applying a political and peaceful settlement, especially since the Syrian regime keeps clinging only to power.


With the beginning of the war, all conflicting powers exploited the state of disorder and chaos and hurried to use heavy weapons, artillery cannons and armoured vehicles, savagely and indiscriminately bombarding cities, towns and villages, while in March 2012, aircraft was used for the first time to attack residential areas. Helicopters then started their bombardment using barrel bombs, before fighter jets joined the conflict four months later, in July. The conflict powers also used scores of other methods to intimidate and terrorize the Syrian people, as well as stifling the voices of revolutionaries and free voices.


On the other hand, foreign and regional powers and agendas worked on arming the revolution, inciting sectarian strife and fuelling ethnic hatred, as well as the continuous usage of religion and sectarianism. All these efforts aimed at aborting the peaceful uprising, where those powers have succeeded to turn the Syrian Revolution into the most violent conflict in the 21st Century, as the United Nations described.


It is common knowledge that the current tragic and disastrous situation in Syria is a by-product of the successive twists and political and social transitions since 2012, after millions of Syrians having risen up against the tyrannical regime, dreaming to enjoy democracy and freedom in their homeland. On the other hand, foreign and regional powers and other authorities have been sticking to hinder the peaceful settlement in Syria and placed obstacles before every attempt to apply political transition of power, especially since the state of chaos in the country services their interests and oppressing policies.


As a human rights organisation concerned with Syria’s affairs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has documented by names the death of 507,567 people since the onset of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011 out of an overall death toll of 617,910 people whose death has been verified by SOHR in the past 13 years.


Because of the inaction by the international community and international powers regarding applying a political settlement putting an end to the war in Syria in the division of the country, 14,600,000, half of whom are children, are starving at a time when the rate of poverty is rapidly escalating in light of the lack of job opportunities, poor infrastructure and seizure of farmlands by rebels and regime Shapiha (regime loyalists who abuse power and conduct illegal actions for the benefit of the regime).


Such practices have been major factors that have threatened the food security, while the United Nations has warned against serious humanitarian disasters, outbreak of diseases and starvation, because of the acute shortage of food and clean drinking water; let alone the blockade policy practiced by security and military forces, according to which civilians are prevented from travelling from one zone of influence to another or they will be at risk of being arrested for “supporting opposing parties.”


The United Nations’ reports about Syria confirm that a half of the Syrian residents are at risk of hunger in light of the worsening economic hardship and destroying public and vital institutions due to the ongoing conflict; this, in turn, has left millions of Syrians jobless and forced many of them to displace and immigrate.


The war has turned Syria into one of the poorest countries around the world with 82.5 percent of the population considered as poor. Such situations have spurred the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call frequently for stopping the war to save millions of Syrians who are struggling to survive in light of the blatant violations to international laws and human rights.


Disregarding the international humanitarian law, foreign powers involved in the Syrian conflict have cared only about their narrow interests, where Ankara continues its violations and atrocities in north Syria region under the pretext of “safeguarding national security,” while Tehran, through Hezbollah and other proxy militias, plant and manufacture illicit drugs and dominates large swaths throughout Syria. Also, Moscow runs Damascus affairs in light of the symbolic regime domination, and other western and regional powers have puppetted the Syrians’ future. The intervention of those powers in the war has led to devastating Syria, aborted the political process and its paths and hindered every effort to reach comprehensive stability in Syria.


The outcomes of the conflict have been disastrous, where thousands of Syrians have chosen to flee from death and hunger and sought refuge in different countries around the world. It is worth noting that refugees are unable to return in the recent time, because of the lack of safe environment and absence of guarantees protecting them from being arrested or forcibly disappeared, especially since the Syrian regime considers all people who have been displaced to other zones of influence or sought refuge in other countries as opponents.


Despite the frequent press releases and promises by the Syrian regime and its allies regarding the “safe return to the homeland,” the situation on the ground is not suitable for a safe return of refugees who face considerable challenges and endure atrocities in many asylum countries, mainly Turkey and Lebanon where Syrian refugees are repressed, abused, suffer from inhumane treatment, and struggle with growing  anti-Syrian sentiment and racist campaigns by both citizens and authorities. Moreover, the most of asylum countries call for applying a peaceful settlement in Syria as soon as possible to deport Syrian refugees.


Similarly, internally displaced people in refugee camps across Syria and even civilians who remain in their homes are struggling with tragic situations due to the inflation and prohibitively high prices of all products and foodstuffs in light of the stifling economic crisis and international sanctions.


Moreover, humanitarian assistance provided to millions of people, who have become besieged due to the conflict, has been decreased greatly following the closure of the most of border crossings. Recently, humanitarian assistance is delivered to Syria through only one crossing, Bab Al-Hawa, while the Security Council holds a meeting every six months to discuss the expansion of period of the access of humanitarian assistance. It is worth noting that several countryside, namely Russia, Iran and China, voted the delivery of food and medicine to Syria through this crossing on several occasions.


The policy of starving Syrian people by many countries dominating the Security Council, especially China and Russia, has led to starvation in different areas in Syria and the prevalence of diseases related to malnutrition. The United Nations talked about this policy many times, condemning the punishment of Syrians by such ways. However, the international authorities’ calls and appeals remained unheeded, while Damascus and its allies turned their back to such calls and never complied with the United Nations’ resolutions in the past 13 years or exerted any efforts to break the deadlock.


Despite the Syrian regime’s intransigence, the internationally recognized opposition insists on continue negotiations with the regime to reach a political settlement starting with implementing the Resolution No. 2254 and holding accountable every one involved in acts and practices that have led to the current tragic situation in Syria, including bombardment with barrel bombs, airstrikes, ground attacks, devastating houses and insulting people whose only guilt was to call for freedom. The Syrian opposition is adherent to their demand to refer perpetrators of war crimes to international courts to ensure a fair trial based on international laws. The opposition also believes that discussion, negotiations and implementation of international resolutions, including drafting a constitution representing all segments of the Syrian society without exclusion, are the main gate to stop the war in Syria.


With the war in the Gaza Strip and the Russian-Ukrainian war, the international community seems to turn its back to the Syrian crisis, disregarding the tragic situation and total destruction. However, the Syrian opposition and democratic movement inside and outside Syria have exerted diligent efforts to revive this cause, where the Syrian opposition intended to filing an application to the Security Council about the intentional obstruction of the paths of settling the crisis, especially since Geir Otto Pedersen has become a major pillar of this obstruction, as he publicly sides with the regime and is unable to achieve any progress regarding the political process.


On the other hand, Syrian women could not escape from the horrific violations and war crimes, where the Syrian Observatory has documented the death of 15,671 Syrian women by all conflicting powers which never hesitate when it came to killing, raping and abusing them. Also, the tragic situation of many women has been exploited and they found themselves forced to work for long hours for low salaries. With the beginning of the war, the international community and feminist organisations had paid extreme priority to the cause of women’s rights in Syria and the blatant violations they endured, before they turned their back to this cause, and they now seem satisfied with focusing on such violations only on the International Women’s Day.


Also, the role of women in the Syrian Revolution cannot be ignored or denied, where they took to the streets to demand decent standards of living and appropriate work. Women led many protests and showed brave stances and adopted opposing political opinions which they later were punished for, where many women were arrested, kidnapped and tortured. However, they never feared of security and military authorities and were able to cope with the rebel organisations’ violence and terrorism.


Similarly, children have been affected by the war the most, were many Syrian boys and girls have been killed, deprived from education, forced to join labour market to help their families and fallen victims of recruitment to military formations. They also fell victims of the prevalence of illicit drugs which have become readily available are strewn everywhere in residential areas.


Syrians are concerned about the scenarios of sharing interests which occupying countries have called for, after their soldiers having been killed in Syrian territory. Although all of those powers call for liberating Syria, spreading stability and forming a united powers and express their rejection of dividing Syria into different zones with autonomous authorities running the affairs of each zone, the situation on the ground proves that the departure of those powers from Syria, according to a perfect political tactic, will never be for free.


Believing in the promotion of humanitarian principles and the right of all human beings to live in a safe environment, we, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), renew our calls to implement the international resolution, mainly Resolution No. 2254, and we warn against the policy of insulting and repressing Syrian people, whatever their stances and opinions are.


SOHR reaffirms the importance of the unity of Syrian territory and people and rejects all calls for dividing Syria, and stress that the stability in Syria starts with the departure of all occupying foreign powers which hinder all paths designed to reach a political settlement, destabilise the region and wreak havoc.


SOHR also calls for bringing all war criminals, perpetrators of violations and all those who aided and abetted crimes against Syrian people to justice.


SOHR calls upon the international community to intensify its efforts to disclose the fate of the detainees and forcibly disappeared people as soon as possible.


We renew our calls for accelerating the political process and reaching a peaceful settlement securing a safe return for Syrian refugees, especially from Lebanon and Turkey.


We stress our support and adherence to the peaceful public uprising, which sadly was armed in order to create chaos and distract the peaceful revolutionaries from their objectives and rightful demands.