Explosive violence in Syria

A weekend of unrelenting airstrikes in Syria

aleppo-picAir strikes continued to pummel rebel-neighbourhoods in Aleppo city and across the surrounding countryside over the weekend. Over 500 civilians were killed and injured by air-launched weaponry between Friday and Sunday.

The air-launched explosives were reported to have consisted of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, phosphorous, napalm, and bunker bombs.

On Sunday alone, 85 were killed and 300 injured in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

The air strikes have targeted civilian areas, such as commercial and residential areas. Many first responders have been injured by further air strikes as they respond to attacks.

The destruction has blocked roads, preventing fire trucks and ambulances reaching those in need. Many remain trapped beneath the rubble for hours and hospitals remain overwhelmed with patients.

It was reported that only 20 doctors remain in eastern Aleppo and they are exhausted.

Attention has been drawn to not only the physical impacts of airstrikes and the sustained attacks, such as death, injury and malnutrition, but also the psychological impacts, including an increased rate of child and young adult suicide.

Over the last five years, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor has found Syria to be consistently one of the worst affected states from explosive violence around the world. A total of 36,224 deaths and injuries from explosive violence were recorded there between 2011-2015 – of these 86% (31,290) were civilians. Indeed, the only country worse affected from explosive violence in the last five years was Iraq.

Of these, 16,657 civilian deaths and injuries in Syria were from explosive violence perpetrated by state actors, predominantly Syria and Russia.

In the first half of 2016, AOAV had already recorded 1,755 civilian deaths and injuries from 78 air-launched attacks.

AOAV records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources. The data reflected here cannot capture the full scale of civilian suffering in Syria, but is indicative of the patterns of harm that exist when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.

AOAV strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all groups to reject the deliberate targeting of civilians. The use of weapons with wide-area impacts should also remain of concern; due to the severe impact these have on civilians. All actors must urgently address the civilian harm in Syria. The situation in Syria requires an urgent response to prevent further suffering of Syrian civilians, who have for too long borne the impact of the violence in their country. AOAV encourages states to reinstate the ceasefire so aid may safely enter and further civilian harm can be prevented.