SYRIA — (Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville) — The outrageous bombing of a busy local marketplace in the centre of Douma, in Eastern Ghouta of rural Damascus has deepened the intense suffering of the civilian population in the area, which has been under siege by Government forces since 2013.
According to survivor accounts, on Sunday, there were two rounds of attacks: initial airstrikes were followed shortly afterwards by surface-to-surface missiles which hit people who had rushed to the scene to help. At least 111 civilians have reportedly been killed and at least 200 others were injured — many of whom are in a serious condition. The death toll is likely to rise, particularly since those injured are being treated in field hospitals which are sorely inadequate, given that the two-year siege of Douma has led to a serious shortage of medical supplies. The attacks also resulted in massive destruction of civilian infrastructure.
We managed to talk directly to some residents of the area, who said that the protracted siege by Government forces was the biggest problem facing them and pointed out it had resulted in more deaths and destruction than this single incident, particularly horrific though it was.
Any intentional direct attack against civilians or civilian objects as well as the use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas are serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and may amount to a war crime for which individuals can be held criminally responsible. We have repeatedly urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, given that calls for accountability and justice in Syria have gone unheeded for four years now.
(Photo source: Mohammed Badra/Reuters)