Thursday, September 15, 2022

Who Said the Syrian War is Over?

 The United Nations has warned in a new report that Syria is on the verge of another flare-up that could spell a return to large-scale combat.

“Today, Syrians face increasing and intolerable hardships, living among the ruins of this lengthy conflict. Millions are suffering and dying in displacement camps, while resources are becoming scarcer and donor fatigue is rising,” said Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chair of the UN’s Syria commission. “Syria cannot afford a return to larger-scale fighting, but that is where it may be heading.”

In recent months, an intensification along Syria’s northern front has increased the suffering of citizens, warned the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in its report.

Under the threat of another Turkish ground operation, the commission recorded continued mobilisation and fighting between Turkish and Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish-led forces in the north. In addition, Russia is still actively supporting the Syrian government, particularly concerning air strikes that have killed civilians and targeted food and water sources. Russian air raids over opposition-held areas had increased in the last few months, said commissioner Hanny Megally.

“We had an idea at some point that the war was completely finished in Syria,” Pinheiro told journalists, adding that incidents documented in the report proved this was not the case. The report found that “grave violations of fundamental human rights and humanitarian law” had increased across the country in the first six months of this year.

“Tens of thousands of Syrians remain forcibly disappeared or missing to date. Government forces continue to inflict cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment on the relatives of the missing by deliberately concealing the fate and whereabouts of the missing,” the report outlined.

“We also see continued operations by Israel, as well as the US, Turkey and Iran-backed forces, in this protracted conflict,” commissioner Lynn Welchman warned. The report documented more than a dozen Israeli strikes across Syria in the first six months of 2022, including an attack on Damascus International Airport that put the site out of commission for nearly two weeks. The UN revealed that it had been unable to fly in humanitarian assistance to Syria during that time.

The UN also documented cases of people and families who have been unable to return to their hometowns and villages because their properties were confiscated by forces, or because they cannot return to their properties and land, fearing arbitrary detention. Against this backdrop, the commission noted that some neighbouring countries are creating concrete plans for mass returns of Syrian refugees

“Returns must be a choice and take place in a safe, dignified, and voluntary manner,” Pinheiro said.

Syria could return ‘to larger-scale fighting’, UN warns | Syria's War News | Al Jazeera

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