Syrian regime attacks on Douma ‘may amount to a war crime’: UN

Published August 18th, 2015 - 05:00 GMT

The Syrian regime's airstrike on Sunday on a marketplace in Douma, northeast of Damascus, which caused at least 111 civilian deaths, "may amount to a war crime", the UN said on Tuesday.

"On Sunday, there were two rounds of attacks: initial airstrikes were followed shortly afterwards by surface-to-surface missiles which hit people who had rushed to the scene to help," Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a press conference in Geneva.

Indicating that at least 111 civilians had been killed and at least 200 others injured, many of whom are in a serious condition, Colville added: "The death toll is likely to rise, particularly since those injured are being treated in field hospitals which are sorely inadequate, given that the two-year siege of Douma has led to a serious shortage of medical supplies."

A war crime

Noting that any intentional direct attack against civilians as well as the use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas are serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, Colville said Sunday's attack on Douma "may amount to a war crime for which individuals can be held criminally responsible".

"We have repeatedly urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, given that calls for accountability and justice in Syria have gone unheeded for four years now," Colville said.

The Syria conflict began in early 2011 when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded with ferocity to popular protests that erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings.

The ensuing civil war, now in its fifth year, has resulted in the deaths of at least 250,000 people and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people, according to the UN.


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