The international community should display a firmer stance against the use of incendiary weapons, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released on Wednesday, adding that new evidence suggest 30 new attacks were carried out with prohibited weapons in Syria.
In 2018, the Syrian-Russian military alliance used incendiary weapons in at least 30 attacks across six governorates of Syria, based on Human Rights Watch research, a statement released by HRW said.
According to the report "Myths and Realities about Incendiary Weapons," the attacks were committed by the "Syrian-Russian military alliance" and they took place in the six governorates of: Aleppo, Damascus, Damascus Countryside, Daraa, Hama and Idlib. "For example, an incendiary airstrike on March 16 in Eastern Ghouta killed at least 61 people and injured more than 200," the report said.
"From November 2012 through 2017, Human Rights Watch documented more than 90 incendiary weapons attacks by the Syrian-Russian military alliance in Syria. The total number of such attacks is likely higher because some attacks go unreported or are not recorded by visual media so cannot be investigated," the report noted.
HRW has called on countries party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to address the loophole in the convention during their annual meeting at the United Nations in Geneva on Nov. 19-23.
Protocol III to this treaty imposes some restrictions on the use of incendiary weapons, but it does not provide sufficient protections for civilians. Syria has not joined Protocol III, but Russia is among the parties to the convention.
Human rights violations by the Bashar Assad regime have previously been documented by rights groups. Yet the backing of Assad by Russia has led him to secure his position over the country, leading to the killings of an estimated 500,000 in the war so far, in addition to around 6 million people who have been displaced internally and another 5 million who were driven abroad as refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, according to U.N. figures.