Since mid-March 2011 up until March 2017, VDC documented 175,545 battle-related deaths.
First, March Battle-Related Deaths:
During this month VDC documented a total of 1156 deaths across different Syrian governorates, among them, 1090 were documented by full name and 66 are still registered as unknown.
Fourth, Death by Type of Weapon:
352 of the total 1156 of the battle-related death occurred by firearms and snipers, 510 by aerial attacks and barrel bombs, while tanks, cannons and mortars accounted for 97 battle-related deaths. Additionally, the VDC documented the deaths of 197 under other reasons; 13 deaths under torture in the Syrian government detention centers, 6 due to the lack of medical and food resources in besieged areas and 149 by land mines and car explosives, 14 kidnaped by unknown. While for the rest 15 the cause or the executioner was not undoubtedly identified.
Sixth, Deaths by ISIS:
During this month, VDC documented the death of 118 people, 82 are civilians, and 36 from different armed groups.
Seventh, an increase in the air strikes carried by the International coalition during March 2017
- The number of civilian causalities by the air strikes from the international coalition has increased to reach 966 according to VDC’s database.
Since the beginning, in September 2014, the international coalition started its operation against ISIS. The information VDC was able to collect show a sharp increase in targeting infrastructure; mosques, bridges, and houses.
According to the local data collectors, the coalition attacks killed tens of civilians in the air strikes on Raqa, Aleppo, and DierAzzour and left more than 188 civilian deaths only in March according to VDC’s database. This increase is the first since the beginning, 30 months ago.
- The Attacks on the town of Al Jena in Aleppo’s western countryside:
On March 16th, 2017, the international coalition jetfighters targeted the local mosque leaving tens of insures and deaths.
Mr. Sohaib Almustafa was in the town during the attack recalls:
On the evening of Thursday, 16-03-2017, the International Coalition aircraft targeted a mosque and a prayer center in the town. The mosque also contains a special section that was equipped to accommodate some displaced families during the evening prayer at about 18:55. Dozens of worshipers were killed in addition to some displaced families, mostly the children and the elderly. Fragments of US-made munitions were found at the target location, proving the involvement of the international coalition aircraft in targeting the mosque.
At least 50 people were killed. We were able to document 27 people by name while the others were recorded as unidentified.
The US-led coalition has admitted killing dozens of civilians in the village of Al Jena in the western Aleppo countryside during its March 2017 attack. Nonetheless, the statement denied that coalition forces deliberately targeted a mosque in the village.
- Attacks of the International Coalition on the province of Raqqa and targeting vital installations:
On 20 March 2017, the United States-led International coalition air force launched airstrikes targeting the Badia School in the Mansoura area in the western countryside of Raqa province.
Eias De’es, an activist and journalist in “Raqa post” center mentioned to VDC that:
On Monday morning, 20-03-2007, Al Badia School was targeted in the western Raqa countryside by the International Alliance Airforce. The school housed a number of displaced families estimated to be 50 families from the area of Maskana in the countryside of Aleppo, the two cities of Homs and Deir Al-Zour, their villages and several other areas.
The shelling caused dozens of deaths and injuries to the displaced families in the school and we have had great difficulty in documenting the death toll due to ISIS control in the area, but we have been able to record the killing of at least 183 civilians in an inconclusive toll.
On 19 March 2017, the International coalition launched heavy air raids on the Mansoura municipality building in the western Raqa countryside, which resulted in complete destruction of the building and its services. Also, the airstrike destroyed the bridge of Wadi Al Salmani to the west of Al Tabqa city.
VDC confirms that the International Coalition forces did not respect the principles of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the attack on Aleppo and Raqa countryside, breaching the principle of “Proportionality in Attack” of rule 14 of customary IHL against the targets, causing many civilian deaths most of which are elderlies and children in addition to many injured and missing people which may raise the final number. The coalition forces also breached the principle of distinction between military and civilian targets and failed in estimating the collateral damage in civilian lives. Finally, the verified direct testimonies confirm that the attack did not prove to be of any military importance for the International coalition.
The VDC reminds all conflict parties in the “International Coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham”, of the absolute requirement, under IHL, to avoid targeting civilians and that targeting civilians is a described war crime. The VDC calls on sparing civilians completely in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the first and second additional protocols of 1977, and the rules of customary International Humanitarian Law.
These figures are not final in any way, and they are subject to continuous and periodic scrutiny by center’s activists, the database administrators, and the field documentation team. Figures may differ between reports, and the most recent report is always considered to be the more accurate.
VDC team pays tribute to all the collaborative activists who extended a helping hand to our center as well as to the families of the victims. We also thank the Field Observation Team whose members face daily dangers executing their duties in Syria in order to document the human rights violations committed there, complete the data, and claim the rights of the distressed families from the concerned bodies and organizations.