Children of Syria’s southern province of Daraa are victims of assassinations by accident

Former leader of the Free Syrian Army, Imad Abu Zureik with a number of children - 10 June 2016 (A photo edited by Enab Baladi)

Former leader of the Free Syrian Army, Imad Abu Zureik with a number of children - 10 June 2016 (A photo edited by Enab Baladi)

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Daraa – Halim Muhammad

Dozens of children have been killed or injured in assassinations that targeted military and civilian figures, which have increased farther in the province of Daraa, in July 2018 after the Syrian regime retook control of the southern region. 

Although the children were not the main targets of the assassinations, the perpetrators did not hesitate to carry out assassinations when they found children at the scene of the assassinations by chance or in private civilian vehicles. 

These assassination operations have raised serious concerns among parents of children in the governorate because they are a clear violation of children’s rights.

Deaths of children resulting from assassinations 

Daraa has seen multiple assassination attempts, yet no party has claimed responsibility for them, except for some statements issued by the so-called Islamic State (IS) through which it holds responsibility for some assassinations carried out through its sleeper cells in the province.  

Among the most dramatic examples of these assassinations are seen in the current year. On 24 August, Nassib Children’s football team was targeted, after a match with Dael’s team, which resulted in killing two children and wounding four others, while they were in the vehicle of the former leader of the Free Syrian Army, Imad Abu Zureik. 

Also, on 15 July, an explosive device exploded in the car of the former commander, Amer al-Mahamid, in the town of Om Elmiathin, killing his two daughters and his wife.

Ms. Omaima, an Arabic language teacher in Daraa, told Enab Baladi that her fear for the security of her children increases with every new assassination, especially when it is conducted among civilians. She said that it is easy to spare children places and military vehicles. 

The Office of the Documentation of Martyrs in Daraa reported that it documented the killing of 12 children since the Syrian regime re-established control of the southern region in 2018, in addition to the wounding of ten other children while 25 children were killed during the opposition control of the province between 2011 and 2018, as a result of the assassinations. According to the office’s figures, which Enab Baladi reported, the total number of children targeted by various military operations since 2011 has reached 1,999 children.

Assassinations are violations of children’s rights 

International humanitarian law provides general protection for children, and thus targeting children is considered a violation of these laws and falls under war crimes.

Lawyer Suleiman al-Furqan confirmed to Enab Baladi that the assassinations that kill children, as a result, are among the most important crimes prohibited by international humanitarian law and human rights laws, and constitute a flagrant violation of these laws, especially since the humanitarian law explicitly stipulates the protection of the civilian population in general and children in particular, as well as the removal of children from all forms of conflict.

Omar al-Hariri, from the Office of Documentation of Martyrs in Daraa, distinguished between crimes that occur in violations of international laws. He told Enab Baladi that some incidents of targeting children are not considered a violation because he thinks that the responsibility actually falls on those who placed them in dangerous conditions that directly threaten their lives such as being in military headquarters or in military buses.

Al-Hariri pointed out that most of the assassinations in Daraa were carried out in a civilian place, where children spontaneously found at the scene of the assassination or they were traveling in civilian vehicles belonging to military leaders.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights documented, in a report issued on 4 June, the killing of 29,296 children at the hands of the main actors in Syria between March 2011 and last June. The report also documented the presence of 4,816 forcibly disappeared or detained children.

 

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