Parties to the Syrian armed conflict continued to commit with impunity serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, and gross human rights abuses. Government and allied forces carried out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects using aerial and artillery bombing, including with internationally banned weapons, killing and injuring hundreds of people.

Government forces maintained lengthy sieges on densely populated areas, restricting access to humanitarian and medical aid to thousands of civilians. Government forces lifted the siege of Eastern Ghouta in April; this was followed by restrictions that impeded some of the displaced civilians from returning to the formerly besieged areas. Security forces arrested and continued to detain tens of thousands of people, including peaceful activists, humanitarian workers, lawyers and journalists, subjecting many to enforced disappearance and torture or other ill-treatment, and causing deaths in detention.

Government forces disclosed the fate of some of the disappeared but failed to provide the families with remains or information around the circumstances of the disappearances. The government violated the right to housing.

Armed opposition groups with the support of Turkey subjected civilians in Afrin to a wide range of abuses, including confiscation and looting of property, and arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment. The US-led coalition failed to acknowledge or investigate the large scale of civilian deaths and destruction caused by their 2017 bombing campaign on Raqqa against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). By the end of 2018, the conflict had caused the deaths of more than 400,000 people and displaced more than 11 million people within and outside Syria.

In July, a United Nations resolution that would have renewed the provision of critical cross-border humanitarian aid to civilians in Syria was vetoed by Russia and China. The veto put at risk food aid and health and educational materials necessary to assist millions of internally displaced Syrians.

An interactive website, “War in Raqqa: Rhetoric versus Reality,” is the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict and calls upon the US-led coalition to end almost two years of denial about the massive civilian death toll and destruction it unleashed in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Conviction of Syrian official for crimes against humanity a historic victory for justice

In what constitutes a historic step toward holding Syrian government officials accountable for human rights violation, a German court sentenced Eyad al-Gharib, a Syrian security officer, to four-and-a-half years in prison for crimes against humanity for his role in aiding and abetting the torture of detained protesters in Damascus.

Amnesty International researchers applauded the conviction as being “the first of its kind for crimes under international law committed by a Syrian government official.”

“It is a resounding victory for the tens of thousands of Syrian torture survivors and victims of enforced disappearance as well as for Syrian and international human rights and litigation organizations who together, for years, have fought relentlessly for truth and justice,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.


Syria Newsroom

July 28, 2020 • Press Release

Yezidi child survivors of ‘Islamic State’ facing unprecedented health crisis

Almost 2,000 Yezidi children who have returned to their families after being held captive by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are facing a physical and mental health …

May 10, 2020 • Press Release

UN must not cut vital aid lifeline to north-west Syria amid Russian and Syrian war crimes

A new Amnesty International report, 'Nowhere is safe for us': Unlawful attacks and mass displacement in north-west Syria, details 18 cases – the majority in January and February 2020 – where Syrian and/or Russian government forces targeted medical facilities and schools in Idlib, western Aleppo and north-western Hama governorates.

May 6, 2020 • Press Release

Defense Department undercounts civilian casualties in new reporting

Responding to the Pentagon’s report on U.S. civilian casualties to Congress, Daphne Eviatar, the director of the Security with Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA stated: “The Department of …

April 22, 2020 • Press Release

Torture Trial in Germany a ‘Historic Step’ Towards Justice in Syria

The first trial of two former officials of the Syrian government’s security service charged with crimes against humanity marks an important step towards justice, Amnesty International said.

April 7, 2020 • Press Release

Workshop for media featuring Nazanin Boniadi and the Middle East Institute will examine COVID-19 impact on the Middle East and North Africa

As part of a series of workshops exploring human rights concerns related to the COVID-19 response, Amnesty International USA will be holding a workshop titled “The impact of COVID-19 on …

March 31, 2020 • Press Release

Prisoners in Syria Should be Released to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

The Syrian authorities must cooperate fully with UN agencies and humanitarian organizations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country’s prisons, detention centers and military hospitals, Amnesty International has warned.

March 4, 2020 • Press Release

Moscow Summit Must Prioritize Ending Renewed Attacks on Civilians in Idlib

Ahead of a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Moscow tomorrow (Thursday, March 5) to discuss the escalating military conflict in Idlib in Syria, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said: “The Moscow summit represents an opportunity for Russia and Turkey to prioritize the safety of civilians."

February 25, 2020 • Press Release

Targeting Schools Being Properly Used for Educational Purposes in Idlib, Syria is a War Crime

Following reports that 10 schools were hit by shelling in Idlib and Aleppo countryside, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director, said:

October 24, 2019 • Press Release

Turkey Illegally Deported Syrians Into War Ahead of Anticipated ‘Safe Zone’

Turkey spent the months leading up to its military incursion into northeast Syria forcibly deporting refugees to the war-torn country, in advance of attempting to create a so-called “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border, new Amnesty International research has revealed.

October 11, 2019 • Press Release

Turkish Military Offensive Risks a Humanitarian Catastrophe in Syria

The military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria risks devastating humanitarian consequences and a further destabilization of the region, warned Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Marie Struthers, reiterating the call on Turkey to respect international law.