War in Syria and Threats to Non-Combatants
This paper will analyze the War in Syria which has been a threat to non-combatants. The civilians are suffering simultaneously in the crises and the humanitarian laws are unable to defend them. Since the causalities are evident that civilians are also being targeted in the war. The conflict started in 2011 after the spring revolution and was first considered an internal disturbance. Later, the situation intensified between the state and armed non-state actors (ICRC, 2012). The situation was then declared as the Non-International Armed conflict (NIAC) which is defined by International Humanitarian Law (IHL, 2006) as the assertion between the state and armed non-state actors within the boundary of the country.
How does the war affect others?
The war within the boundary has multiple effects on the people who are not part of the conflict and living in the country. The Humanitarian law has been formed which is also known as the law of war. According to the definition of International Humanitarian law, such conflicts require rules and laws for those who are not part of the conflict, those who are not taking part in the war from any of the sides will be protected by the law, they will be protected through the law. If a person takes part in a conflict, then he will lose protection from the attack. This says that any attack on the civilian structure is forbidden and it will be against the customary laws and states must follow it. Despite the presence of International Humanitarian law, civilians are suffering and being targeted in the Syrian war. Reports are there to show the civilian causalities in the crises.
Number of Casualties due to the War
It is the civilians who are getting killed or have faced problems due to the fights between the government and Jihadists. International Humanitarian Law being the supreme authority is unable to provide safety to the people of Syria. According to the reports of the Syrian Observatory for Human rights (SOHR, 2021), almost 606,000 civilians have died in the war which started eleven years ago. The number of children who were killed in the war is 25,048 and the number of women is 15,135 in numbers. Amnesty International (2021) reported that people between 5000 to 13000 have been executed in jail by the government and there are thousands more who have died in the war.
United Nations and Arab League envoy (2021) has estimated that almost 800,000 people died in the Syrian War. They analyzed the population of Syria which was 20.8 million in 2011 and the figure suggests that 2% population of Syria died in the ongoing war.
Role of the Syrian Government
Ole Solvang from Human Rights Watch reported that bakeries that are considered as civilian structures were being bombed and targeted by the Syrian government. It was not used by the combatant’s Jihadists, but it was used by the civilians who were killed, and many got injured.
Oweis (2012) claimed that continuous bombing and firing resulted in the destruction of civilian structures and there were civilian causalities as well. Somehow, Syria did not ratify Additional Protocol 2 of the Geneva convention which says asks for the protection of the civilians in the Non-International Armed Conflict, but still, there are International Humanitarian Law and customary laws that are there to protect the civilians. Moreover, there is a video message of the well-known Islamic scholar who was encouraging people to kill those who are in favor of the government (Alqaradawi, 2013). Either they are fighting or not, so these are the incidents that claim the threats to civilians even in the presence of humanitarian laws.
The violence of these combatants’ groups was not limited to the civilians, but it targeted doctors, paramedics, aid workers, and those places where all these healthcare facilities were provided. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is a humanitarian organization that was providing humanitarian assistance during the conflict claimed that their seven workers were being kidnapped by the extremist group, later four of them were released and no one even know where the rest of them are (Nebehay and Holmes, 2013). This incident changed the scenario and the non-governmental organizations who were willing to work there stopped their aid process and limited their movement in fear.
Irina Bokova who is the head of the educational and cultural organization (UNESCO) claimed that the biggest threat in Syria is not only about the devastation of civilian buildings, but they are targeting the historical sites, and this is not in the mainstream and media are not showing this news to the world (Charbonneau, 2013). It has been observed that they are sending valuable things to other countries to sell it and this will bring the huge money in return. The UN high commissioner of human rights (2019) warned of the causalities and the killings of civilians caused by the airstrike in Idlib and other various parts of western Syria.
The continuous ten days airstrike caused at least 103 civilian causalities including 26 children. She claimed that these causalities are not on the radar of the international media (Geneva, 2019). The Syrian Network of Human Rights (2020) claimed in its report that 1734 civilians died in the calendar including 99 were killed in December. The report says that there were killing of IDPs and bombing in the land mines. Moreover, the Syrian Network of Human Rights (SNHR, 2021) report claims the deaths of 723 civilians in the first half of the year including 22 children and there were 8 women in that extrajudicial killings. Human rights watch (HRW, 2021) has reported, since the ceasefire was placed in March 2020, the Syrian- Russian military alliance kept on targeting Idlib which was the last foothold of the anti-government alliance in Syria. This alliance has attacked discriminately to the civilians and civilian infrastructure which resulted in thousands of civilian casualties. The Covid pandemic was on the rise at that time, this operation almost destroyed 50% of the health facilities and the civilians were left with an open sky without having any medical facility in the middle of the pandemic.
It has been evident from the reports of the authentic agencies that there are clear violations of human rights or what the protection has been given to the non-combatants by the International Humanitarian Law. Since the start of the conflict, nothing has been done by the international actors to at least preserve the rights of the civilians. There have been continuous violations and civilians are suffering the most. The situation is likely to get serious with time, because of no check and balance from any authority. If the international actors are involved then it will be the next Libya and Iraq, where multiple actors will fight to get their interests. There are already several international actors who are supporting armed forces who are actively taking part in the conflict. Since the world is anarchic, everybody is struggling to pursue their interests, there are strategic interests of the international actors in the ongoing conflict, that’s why they are not actively participating to avoid humanitarian violation on the ground level. So, humanitarian Law is unable to defend the rights of the Non-combatants and there is a threat to their lives and structure in the Syrian Crises.
Tayyab Saghir is an undergraduate from Quaid I Azam University. He's a freelance writer and interested in reading and writing.