On Monday, May 23rd 2016, the cities of Tartous and Jableh, along the coast of Syria, were confronted with multiple attacks.
In Tartous, home to a Russian naval facility, two suicide bombs and one car bomb were detonated in a bus station. When people crowded after the car bomb explosion, two suicide bombers detonated their vests among the onlookers.
The attacks in Tartous on Monday are said to be the first of their kind.
Simultaneously, in Jableh, a car bomb was detonated, again outside a bus station, whilst a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the station. Another suicide bomber detonated their explosives outside a electricity company and the last detonated at the entrance to the hospital emergency department.
Both Tartous and Jableh are predominantly home to those of the Alawite minority, though the presence of other sects has increased in these cities as many flee from more violent areas of the country. Alawites, though a minority, hold many positions of power within Syria, including presidency – Assad and his family are Alawites.
ISIS claimed to have perpetrated the attacks through their media outlets. ISIS stated that they hoped to kill Alawites in the attacks, whom they believe to be heretics.
In retaliation to the bombings, it was said by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that government supporters attacked an area of Tartous where internally displaced Syrians have been hosted. Fortunately, nobody was killed.
Over the last five years, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor has found Syria to consistently be one of the states worst affected by explosive violence. A total of 36,224 deaths and injuries from explosive violence were recorded 2011-2015 – of these 86% (31,290) were civilians.
The only country worse affected from explosive violence in the last five years was Iraq.
Though, it is state actors that have been responsible for most civilian deaths and injuries in Syria caused by explosive violence, non-state violence too has been a constant threat to the lives of Syrian civilians. In 2015, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor found that non-state actors were responsible for at least 3,218 civilian deaths and injuries; 37% of all civilian deaths and injuries recorded in Syria last year. Of these, ISIS was accountable for 794.
The 40 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents recorded last year caused 1,285 civilian deaths and injuries – an average of 32 deaths and injuries per attack.
However, the explosive violence perpetrated by ISIS this year has already increased. 697 civilian deaths and injuries were caused by explosive violence perpetrated by ISIS in the first three months of 2016 alone. 686 were caused by seven IED attacks. The attacks this year also demonstrate an increased lethality, with an average of 98 civilian deaths and injuries per incident.
It is evident that IEDs, especially suicide bombings, are extremely lethal and are seeing wider and wider use. AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015 found that of all IED attacks, the ones that posed the most danger were suicide attacks.
AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all groups to reject the deliberate targeting of civilians. States must urgently address the threat of suicide bombings and other forms of IED attacks. Reports by AOAV show the increasing use and harm of suicide bombings around the world. It is a growing reality that highlights the need for urgent preventative measures that States should establish – such as stockpile controls – to limit groups’ ability to produce these and other IEDs.
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