UN investigators have warned millions of Syrians, who have endured more than a decade of war, are likely to face more deaths and injuries as fighting intensifies on the country’s northern borders. The independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria will submit a report on its latest findings to the UN Human Rights Council next week.
The report found a significant reduction in the number of government air strikes in northwestern Syria during the period under review from January 1 to June 30.
However, the three-member commission noted that hostilities had increased significantly in Idlib and Aleppo, the last rebel strongholds, in August. It says civilians bear the brunt of intense fighting.
The report details attacks in northern Aleppo that killed and injured at least 92 civilians, destroying civilian homes, schools, mosques, medical facilities and administrative buildings.
Commission chairman Paulo Pinheiro says several civilians, including children, have been killed and injured in fighting between pro-government forces and armed opposition groups.
“In addition, Russia is still actively supporting the Syrian government, particularly with regard to airstrikes that have killed civilians and targeted food and water sources,” Pinheiro said. “Families living in front-line areas have borne the brunt of pro-government forces fielding ground – shelling from the ground in those areas.”
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Pinheiro says there is continuing military involvement in this protracted conflict by Israel, the United States and Turkey.
“I must say that Syria may not return to large-scale fighting, but perhaps that is where it is heading,” Pinheiro said.
The report highlights the deteriorating situation at the al-Hawal camp, where thousands of former wives and children of Islamic State militants are being held.
Pinheiro says the condition of children in al-Hawal and other camps in the northeast is particularly worrying.
“They lack adequate health care and education. And many people are hurt by the violence within those camps,” Pinheiro said. “Young boys, once they reach puberty, are at risk of being transferred to military detention centers with adult alleged Daesh fighters, legally Doomed to detention without recourse.”
Reports say tens of thousands of Syrians are forcibly missing or missing. It added that families searching for their loved ones, which are often carried out by women, are at risk of arrest, extortion and abuse.
The commission has documented several cases of Syrian refugees who have been arrested and detained by government forces shortly after returning home. It added that many people are unable to go back to their homes and villages as their properties have been confiscated.
The commissioners urged neighboring countries to abandon their plans for the mass return of Syrian refugees because their safety could not be guaranteed.