[JURIST] The UN rights office on Tuesday condemned [UN News Centre report] Monday’s airstrikes in Syria, which hit hospitals and schools in the region, saying they may constitute war crimes. The airstrikes resulted in 45 deaths and dozens of more injuries as missiles hit four hospitals and one school. Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] Rupert Colville stated [press briefing] in regards to the airstrikes, “[w]e are gravely concerned about these abhorrent and repeated attacks on medical facilities in the Syrian conflict.” Allegations have been made that Russian planes were involved in the airstrikes, but Russia has denied any involvement in the bombing of the hospitals and school. The UN has reported that Syria had 58,000 internally displaced people yesterday at the Turkish border and believe more people will flee their homes if airstrikes continue. Colville said the UN is asking for an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further human rights violations.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Last week the OHCHR reported [JURIST report] that the Syrian government is systematically exterminating detainees. In November Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report stating that the practice of caging captured soldiers and civilians constitutes hostage-taking [JURIST report] and an outrage against their personal dignity. In October France opened a torture investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of the Syrian government under Assad in detention facilities. Additionally, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in October detailing the possibility of war crimes in Syria. The AI report criticized the Syrian government by stating that “they have maintained unlawful sieges, restricted humanitarian assistance deliveries, deliberately attacked civilians, and carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, arbitrary detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances.”