The Bashar Assad regime has increased its assassination attempts, most of which target former dissidents in the areas captured from the opposition forces with the backing of Russia in recent years. The Syrian Opposition and the Revolutionary Forces (SMDK) stated Wednesday that in Syria's southwestern Daraa province, which was taken under control by the regime, 38 assassination attempts occurred in September and 21 people died, while the regime's cruelty continues to manifest itself in other ways. Accordingly, nine out of the 12 targeted former dissidents were forced to join the regime's army. Furthermore, at least 22 arbitrary detentions, and several torture and execution incidents also occurred in Daraa. SMDK deputy head Oqab Yahya stated that this shows Russia's limited control over Bashar Assad and Iran, and continued, "Iran gives importance to the fact that it has a presence in Syria's south."
Yahya also called on the international community to stop the incidents in Daraa and to open an investigation on the committed crimes.
However, the regime's brutality is not limited to these incidents. Prisoners are treated violently and collective punishments of innocent civilians cause further humanitarian crises in the war-torn country. According to the International Conscience Movement, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), more than 13,500 women have been jailed since the Syrian conflict began, while more than 7,000 women remain in detention, where they are subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence.
The civil war in Syria erupted in 2011 when the Assad regime harshly responded to protesters, who had poured onto the streets to demand more rights and freedom. The protests initially emerged following the Arab Spring demonstrations, which resulted in the step down of strongmen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The cruelty against protesters triggered a rebellion in significant parts of the country, turning into a brutal civil war before long. The fighting has caused hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had already been displaced, to flee further north and seek shelter along the Turkish border.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Syrian regime previously to stop the collective punishment of people who were placed "arbitrarily" on a terror list by freezing their assets.
Syrian refugees who fled the war eight years ago to neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are usually afraid to return because of such decrees and the punishment they might face from the Assad government.
According to HRW, people affected by the decree had not been notified and only became aware their assets had been frozen or seized when they attempted to conduct a transaction involving their property.
On the other hand, Syrians returning to their country from Turkey were arrested two weeks ago by the regime while crossing the border. The Assad regime offered amnesty to all who agreed to end their anti-regime activities regarding crimes committed before Sept. 14, 2019. Yet, Damascus has carried out a wave of arbitrary arrests against former activists in opposition areas that surrendered under deals brokered by its ally Moscow. According to opposition sources, the Assad regime has thrown at least 500,000 people behind bars since the conflict began in 2011, and the detainees have been suffering in terrible conditions in the prisons.
173 civilians killed by landmines
Meanwhile, a monitor announced yesterday that at least 173 civilians, 41 of which were children, were killed this year in Syria by landmines and explosive remnants that were planted by the warring parties.
Besides the landmines, the war that has been going on for eight years has claimed the lives of innumerable civilians as the warring parties often target civilian settlements. Landmines were planted both in urban and rural areas.
"Every day civilians are losing their lives or being maimed due to landmines and unexploded ordnance," said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This situation also makes it difficult for displaced Syrians to return to their hometowns and villages.
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