Attack on Damascus University Shows “Callous Disregard” for Civilians

Press Release
March 28, 2013

Attack on Damascus University Shows “Callous Disregard” for Civilians

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – Amnesty International called the mortar attack on Damascus University today a serious violation of the laws of war demonstrating “callous disregard” for civilians. The attack reportedly killed up to 15 people and injured many more.

The attack on the Architecture Faculty of Damascus University came amid escalating fighting in the area in recent days.

“Those who endure the worst atrocities in this brutal conflict are civilians. All sides must abide by international humanitarian law and avoid attacks which indiscriminately kill and injure civilians,” said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International.

“It’s not yet clear who was responsible for firing the mortars in this attack, which landed in a government-controlled area, but one thing is obvious, they are being fired into areas with a large civilian population. Mortars are completely inappropriate for use in civilian areas. Even if the intended target was a military objective, the choice of mortars to attack a target in proximity to civilians displays a callous disregard for their fate and the rules of international humanitarian law.”

“Although an armed opposition group in recent days has reportedly warned civilians to evacuate some areas in Damascus ahead of planned attacks that does not absolve them from their responsibility to minimize harm to civilians. If it appears that an attack is likely to be indiscriminate or disproportionate, it must be cancelled immediately.”

“States which have pledged to provide arms for the opposition have a responsibility to ensure such arms are not subsequently used to violate international humanitarian law.”

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack and the victims are yet to be identified.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.