World, Middle East

UN: 'Probable' Syria regime targeted school, hospitals

Five of six attacks on civilian facilities carried out by regime or its allies, board of inquiry determines

Michael Gabriel Hernandez   | 07.04.2020
UN: 'Probable' Syria regime targeted school, hospitals Civilians, who returned home after the ceasefire on March 06, start fixing their houses and shops in Atarib district of Aleppo, Syria on April 05, 2020. Approximately 73,000 civilians who were displaced by the attacks of Assad Regime and its allies started to return home and fix their houses and shops. ( Muhammed Abdullah - Anadolu Agency )

WASHINGTON 

An internal UN inquiry determined that it is "highly probable" the Syrian regime and its allies carried out five of six investigated attacks in northwestern Syria that targeted civilian facilities, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Monday.  

The board determined that the attacks on a school, a hospital, two health care centers, and a child care center were most likely carried out by the regime or its allies, according to a summary of the inquiry's extensive report released by Guterres.

Even as the board of inquiry made its determination, Guterres' summary did not explicitly mention Russia, the regime's principal battlefield supporter, by name as a chief supporter of the regime. Russia provides the regime with extensive airpower, including manned and unmanned aerial missions.

The five attacks are all said to have been carried out by aircraft using either guided munitions, barrel bombs dropped from rotary-wing aircraft, or an air-to-ground missile.

The facilities that were struck include the Martyr Akram Ali Ibrahim al-Ahmad Secondary School, the Rakaya Primary Health Care Center, the Kafr Nabutha Primary Health Care Center and Surgical Unit, As-Suqylabiyah National Hospital, and the Kafr Nobol Surgical Hospital.

It also determined that it was "probable" that a May 2019 attack on a Palestinian refugee camp in Aleppo province that killed 11 people was most likely carried out by the armed Syrian opposition, or al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Ground-to-ground fire such as Grad rockets or similar munitions had likely been employed in that attack.

The board of inquiry was tasked with examining a six incidents in the Idlib de-escalation zone agreed to by Russia and Turkey on Sept. 17, 2018. The board determined that a seventh incident fell outside the bounds of its mandate.

The Syrian regime did not respond to multiple requests to issue visas to the board of inquiry's members, making site visits impossible.

"I would emphasize in this connection that a Board of Inquiry is not a judicial body or court of law: it does not make legal findings or consider questions of legal liability or legal responsibility," Guterres wrote in a letter accompanying the summary.

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