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The Russian-Syrian joint military operation has used internationally banned and other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks on Syrian civilians in the northwest, in recent weeks. According to the United Nations, the area is home to three million civilians, at least half of whom had been displaced from elsewhere in Syria.

Since April 26, 2019, the Syrian-Russian military alliance has carried out hundreds of attacks every day across areas in the Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo governorates under the control of anti-government groups, killing an estimated 200 civilians, including 20 children.

The alliance has used banned cluster munitions and incendiary weapons in the attacks along with large air-dropped explosive weapons with wide-area effects, including “barrel bombs” in populated civilian areas, based on reports by first responders, witnesses, and open source material. On May 17, the UN Security Council held a second emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Northwest Syria but failed to identify a way to protect civilians there.

Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said:

“The Syrian-Russian military alliance is using a cocktail of internationally banned and indiscriminate weapons on a trapped civilian population.

“Russia has abused its position at the UN Security Council to protect itself and its ally in Damascus, and to continue these abuses against civilians.”

Fighting escalated in the region in April after a six-month ceasefire. Russia has provided military and political support for the Syrian government as it bombed over 20 health facilities out of service since April 26, including those whose coordinates had been provided to the UN and Russia with the explicit purpose of protecting them. May 26 news reports indicated that Turkey was arming antigovernment fighters, in response to ongoing Russian-Syrian strikes.

In the past three weeks, first responders and activists have publicly documented at least 10 attacks using 220mm Uragan cluster munition rockets in addition to attacks with rocket-delivered incendiary weapons, alongside other indiscriminate attacks on civilians using air-dropped bombs. Read more

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