On the evening of March 5, 2021, forces which we believe were Russian carried out two synchronous attacks using long-range missiles on the eastern suburbs of Aleppo governorate. The first attack took place at 19:05 targeting the crossing at al Humran – a square where tanks loaded with fuel were gathered – in the area on the dividing line between the territories controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian National Army in eastern Aleppo governorate. The bombardment resulted in the deaths of at least three civilians and the injury of 23 others, in addition to the burning of dozens of tankers in the area. Less than an hour later, at 20:00, the same forces carried out another attack on the area against a group of fuel burners – rudimentary refineries used in refining operations for crude oil – in Tarhin village in the south of Jarablos city, also in eastern Aleppo governorate, resulting in the death of a Civil Defense member, named as Ahmad al Waki, while he was extinguishing fires that broke out in the area, as well as putting two emergency vehicles out of service.
SNHR notes that both the locations targeted play a prominent role in providing the residents of areas controlled by Armed Opposition factions with fuel, with attacks on such areas exposing civilians in northwest Syria to further suffering.
SNHR notes that these bombings are breaches of the ceasefire agreement reached following consultations between the Turkish and Russian presidents, which came into effect on March 6, 2020.
Through this action, the Russian forces have, without doubt, committed another violation of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 which prohibited any further indiscriminate attacks, as well as violating the rules of international humanitarian law which stress the distinction between civilians and combatants. Attacks of this nature spread terror and panic among civilians, leading them to flee their lands and homes in an attempt to reach safety, and forcibly displacing them, with the number of internally displaced persons within Syria now reaching approximately 6.5 million Syrian citizens in total. The international community should put pressure on the Syrian regime and its allies to force them to compensate the displaced victims, rehabilitate homes and vital centers, support the process of political transition, and press all parties to pursue implementation of political transition according to a strict timetable which must not exceed six months, thus enabling millions of IDPs to return homes.
Photo shows Civil Defense member, Ahmad al Waki, who was killed in the attack on the area of the Tarhin fuel burners