Amnesty International on Monday said the Syrian government’s sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement, forcing thousands of civilians to live in dire conditions, is crimes against humanity.
In a new report, titled “We leave or we die,’’ the London-based rights group said such actions by the Syrian government were conducted between August 2016 and March 2017 in six regions near Damascus as well as in the cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Homs.
Amnesty International’s Philip Luther said while the Syrian governments stated aim has been to vanquish opposition fighters, its cynical use of ‘surrender or starve’ tactics has involved a devastating combination of sieges and bombardments.
“These have been part of a systematic, as well as widespread, attack on civilians that amounts to crimes against humanity,’’ he added.
Amnesty called on all states to assist the United Nations in investigating and prosecuting those responsible.
The group said armed opposition groups are also to blame for “unlawfully” besieging civilians, though “to a lesser extent” than the government.
The report is based on interviews with 134 people conducted between April and September 2017, including displaced residents who lived through sieges and attacks, humanitarian workers and experts, journalists and UN officials.
The group also reviewed videos and analysed satellite imagery to corroborate witness accounts.
Syria’s crisis began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.
The conflict soon spiralled into a multilateral civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced about half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million.