Civilians in southern Syria ‘under siege’ – UN human rights chief

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“The stark representation emerging from Daraa al-Balad and different neighbourhoods underscores however overmuch astatine hazard civilians determination are, repeatedly exposed to warring and violence, and successful effect nether siege”, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.  

With the lone way out of the metropolis under strict Government control, tanks roll down the streets and people face checkpoints and movement restrictions while their spot is seized and stolen, she added.  

Military assault 

As hostilities betwixt Government forces and equipped groups escalated astatine the extremity of July, shelling and artillery strikes have been pummeling residential areas. 

This follows weeks of increasing tension, during which the Government imposed tighter controls connected roads successful and retired of the Daraa al-Balad neighbourhood, a erstwhile absorption stronghold, and different areas to unit equipped groups to surrender, manus implicit their weapons and relocate north.  

Most recently, they person lone been allowing pedestrians retired of Daraa al-Balad along the al-Saraya road, subjecting them to strict information checks, according to the UN rights office. 

Government forces have also stationed tanks successful residential areas to strengthen their subject positions in Daraa al-Balad. 

“I punctual the parties to the struggle of their obligations nether planetary humanitarian law, successful peculiar arsenic regards the extortion of civilians, and nether planetary quality rights law”, said the UN Human Rights chief.  

“Tanks successful residential areas and a checkpoint acceptable up successful a house, strongly suggest the necessary precautions are not being taken”. 

Fighting back 

Members of equipped absorption groups person launched counterattacks connected respective areas successful agrarian Daraa Governorate, reportedly capturing dozens of Government soldiers. 

According to UN rights office, OHCHR, this has been the astir superior confrontation since 2018 erstwhile Government forces established power implicit Daraa pursuing assorted Russian-brokered reconciliation deals.  

Mounting casualties 

Meanwhile, amidst a surge in violence past week, OHCHR documented astatine slightest 8 civilian deaths by reported ground-based strikes by some Government forces and equipped groups. 

Among those killed were 5 members of a household whose location was deed successful the municipality of al-Yaduda in occidental agrarian Daraa.  

OHCHR said that astatine slightest 1 mortar ammunition launched by unidentified equipped individuals deed and damaged the Daraa National Hospital in Daraa al-Mahatta.  

As scores are settled and controls shift within areas, the UN rights office continues to papers targeted killings, including at slightest 101 civilians from January to 31 July.  

In a further denotation of however tense and unsafe the information concern is crossed Daraa governorate, OHCHR said that most people were killed by unidentified perpetrators in drive-by shootings.  

Seizures 

Among different incidents confirmed by the UN rights office, Government forces seized and occupied respective backstage homes successful the areas of Shamal al-Khat, al-Panorama and al-Sabeel in Daraa al-Mahatta, expelling the occupants without allowing them to instrumentality immoderate belongings.  

These forces besides stole money, mobile phones and laptops during searches of astatine slightest 9 backstage houses connected 30 and 31 July in Daraa al-Mahatta.   

Since 28 July, OHCHR said that at least 18,000 civilians have fled from Daraa al-Balad – many to Daraa metropolis itself and adjacent areas, including several 100 radical sheltering successful schools in Daraa al-Mahatta.  

“There needs to beryllium an contiguous ceasefire to alleviate the suffering of civilians successful Daraa”, the High Commissioner insisted. “I besides telephone connected the parties to the struggle to let and facilitate accelerated and unimpeded entree for humanitarian relief.” 

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