UAI calls for a genuine ceasefire and protection for civilians in Northern Syria

These talking points reflect the position of UAI International Executive Committee regarding the latest developments in Northern Syria, following the Turkish invasion and plans to establish a safe zone in this part of the war-torn country.

  • UAI calls for a sustained cessation of hostilities in northeast Syria and the withdrawal of Turkish troops:
    • The Turkish troops and their affiliated militias have reportedly killed and injured tens of civilians, some of them in a gruesome way
    • They have displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and wreaked death and destruction on an area that had been relatively stable
    • Turkey’s intervention is in violation of the UN Charter and shows a blatant disregard for the rule-based international order
  • UAI also calls for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the targeting of civilians by all parties, state and non-state, that have waged war in Syria for many years, foremost among which is the Assad-led regime in Damascus and its allies:
    • Since October 5, 2019, civilians in northeast Syria have greatly suffered at the hands of the invading Turkish military and their local militia allies
    • The Turkish-led invasion is targeting predominantly Kurdish Syrian militias who have controlled the area for several years (and sometimes committed their own share of atrocities as well)
  • Turkey’s actions are illegal under international humanitarian law
  • The “safe Zone” that Turkey wants to establish 32 kilometres deep inside Syria and the potential forced return of refugees would constitute refoulement and a violation of the 1951 Refugee convention:
    • The majority of the Syrian refugees in Turkey did not come from this planned ‘safe zone’
  • Turkey and all parties to this conflict including Kurdish militias should cease and desist from all acts of demographic engineering
  • UAI is worried about the fate of thousands of civilians confined to camps such as al-Hawl because they are allegedly family members of ISIS fighters:
    • We are also concerned about the fate of the ISIS fighters themselves
    • Both families and fighters have been guarded by Kurdish militias but their centers and camps are now reportedly bombed or left unguarded
  • The ICRC and other humanitarian agencies as well as the media should have full and protected access to northern Syria
  • Almost half the people of Syria have been displaced internally or sought refuge outside their country since political protests were brutally repressed in 2011:
    • Over 90% of those killed and the harms inflicted on civilian infrastructure during this war occurred at the hands of the Assad regime military and its allies
  • The Syrian Assad regime has long used indiscriminate aerial bombardment and chemical weapons against civilians leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of them
  • Militia groups sprang up and fought the regime troops and as well pro-Assad paramilitary forces, but then also started fighting against each other or engaging in proxy operations against each other with foreign funds
  • All states that sell arms to Turkey know that they have not only an ethical but also a legal obligation under the Geneva Conventions to restrain the Turkish government and put an end to its military incursion into Syria:
    • All signatories to the Geneva Conventions (hence all states), have an obligation to ensure the safety and humane treatment of all civilians and their infrastructures. They also must ensure that military operations are conducted in compliance with the laws of war
What you can do:

  1. Register your support to UAI’s Call To Action by filling in the fields below:
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  2. Share these talking points with your parliamentary representative or community leader and advocate for her/him to take up the cause
  3. Sign a petition already existing in your own country
  4. Write to your local or national media (e.g. a letter to the editor or an opinion piece)
  5. Meet with friends, relatives and/or work colleagues and think of ways to raise awareness of the situation in your immediate environment (e.g. organisation of a protest action)
  6. Get in touch with us and find out more!

Photo caption: a Syrian woman holds a child as families displaced from Ras al-Ain arrive in Tal Tamer, having fled escalating violence.
©UNICEF/Delil Souleiman

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