For Immediate Release
July 6, 2015
Washington, DC – The weekend of July 4 marked a deadly and ongoing escalation in the use of barrel bombs against civilians, particularly in Rif Damascus, Daraa, Hama, Aleppo, and Idlib.
SAMS field sources report at least 60 barrel bombs were dropped over the city of Zabadani in Rif Damascus over a span of few hours on July 4. An intense barrel bomb campaign by government helicopters over Daraa left four major hospitals completely out service. Numerous barrel bombs were dropped over the town of Allatamneh, Hama, causing several civilian deaths including a young girl named Abrar, her younger brother Ihsan, and three family members. This is in addition to ongoing attacks in Idlib and Aleppo, where the majority of barrel bomb attacks have been taken place.
There has been a major upscale in barrel bomb attacks and fatalities in the last few months. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, over 734civilians were killed in airstrikes in May 2015, which was the deadliest month of the conflict to date, and 576 were killed in airstrikes in June 2015. The group documents that 10,423 barrel bombs have been dropped on the provinces of Rif Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, Quneitera, Suwaydaa, Daraa, Idlib, and Lattakia in 2015 alone. The Violations Documentation Center has documented that 268 barrel bombs were dropped on Aleppo in May 2015 alone.
In the past two weeks, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 71 UN member states, and some 80 humanitarian and human rights groups including SAMS have urged the UN Security Council to act to prevent the killing of civilians, particularly through the use of barrel bombs dropped by government helicopters. France and Spain organized a UN Security Council Arria-formula session to brief members of on the use barrel bombs and indiscriminate weapons on June 26. However, despite universal condemnation of the use of barrel bombs in Syria, attacks continue daily.
SAMS’s Dr. Majed from Rif Damascus said, “Every airstrike or bomb will mean life or death for someone, but the problem with the barrel bomb is the fear. You will live more than 30 or 40 seconds waiting for the barrel bomb to arrive on the ground, and it will be horrible.” SAMS is gravely concerned about a continuation and escalation of barrel bomb attacks, which clearly violate international humanitarian law. It has been over a year since the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution 2139 which called for an end to attacks on civilians and respect for the principles of medical neutrality. This resolution has seen almost complete noncompliance, and attacks on civilians, particularly through the use of barrel bombs, has increased since its passage. The UNSC must implement and enforce its own resolutions. The UN should hold perpetrators accountable for these direct violations of international law and act with urgency to protect civilians and health workers from continued attacks.