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Syria: The Regime’s Barrel Bombs on Rebel-Held Areas Kill Thousands

Hosam Katan/Reuters A man carries an injured child after what activists said were barrel bombs were dropped by forces of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo’s al-Saliheen district, on Friday. MPC Journal, Hakim Khatib
 © Image: Reuters: Hosam Katan – A man carries an injured child after what activists said were barrel bombs were dropped by forces of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo’s al-Saliheen district, on Friday

Syrian government has used barrel bombing in hundreds of locations over the past year. The latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report reveals staggering violations of human rights and increase of war crimes.

The report mentioned that Al-Assad regime used a wide range of weapons, including improvised explosive barrel bombs to put an end to opposition forces.

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Hakim Khatib

Hakim Khatib studied political science of the Middle East, European Studies, journalism and linguistics. He has been lecturing at different German universities since 2011 on issues related to ideology and the interplay of power thereof in socio-political life, and religion and its relationship to contemporary politics in the regions of West Asia and North Africa, especially Egypt and Syria. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics & Culture Journal (MPC Journal) since 2014 and has published over 100 articles in different languages, academic and otherwise, in a wide spectrum of on-line and printed newspapers, journals and think tanks. His current research focuses on Islam-inspired political ideologies such as Islamist extremism and Salafism, radicalisation, de-radicalisation processes in Germany as well as peace and conflict in the Middle East.
Hakim Khatib
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The HRW revealed that the Syrian regime “has carried out hundreds of new indiscriminate attacks over the past year with air-delivered munitions, including improvised weapons such as barrel bombs. The attacks have had a devastating impact on civilians, killing or injuring thousands of people.”

Barrel bombs are locally produced weapons, typically 300 to 600 kilograms. They are constructed from “large oil drums, gas cylinders, and water tanks, filled with high explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation, and then dropped from helicopters usually flying at high altitude,” according to the HRW report.

A Syrian woman comforts her children after their house in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was bombed by forces loyal to the Syrian regime. MPC Journal, Zein Al-Rifei/AFP
© image: AFP: Zein Al-Rifei – A Syrian woman comforts her children after their house in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was bombed by forces loyal to the Syrian regime

HRW has documented repeated barrel bomb attacks in both Aleppo, north of Syria, and Daraa, south of Syria since the Security Council Resolution 2139 on 22 February 2014. The regime’s strikes were “near or on medical facilities, and in residential areas with schools, mosques, and markets, and without discernible military targets in the vicinity.”

The report also holds the international community accountable for the new wave of brutal attacks against civilians, “Although the United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks in a resolution adopted a year ago, it has not responded directly to the new wave of attacks.”

© 2015 Human Rights Watch - Damage sites before and after UN Security Council Resolution 2139., MPC Journal, Hakim Khatib
© 2015 Human Rights Watch – Damage sites before and after UN Security Council Resolution 2139.

“For a year, the Security Council has done nothing to stop Bashar Al-Assad’s murderous air bombing campaign on rebel-held areas, which has terrorized, killed, and displaced civilians,” said Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division.

The head of the western-backed Syrian opposition alliance, Khaled Khoja said: “The HRW report further adds to the disappointment over the UN Security Council’s failure to take any steps to stop the Assad regime’s aerial bombing campaigns against civilians and also over its failure to shoulder its responsibilities for maintaining international peace and security.”

The HRW report identified at least 1400 damage sites in Daraa and Aleppo over the past year. In an exclusive interview for Al-Assad with the BBC‘s Editor Jeremy Bowen recently, he denied that his forces had dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas without discrimination, killing and injuring thousands of civilians.


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