On July 17, artillery forces which we believe were Russian fired a shell equipped with a Krasnopol laser guidance system targeting a house in southeast of Sarja village in Jabal al Zaweya in the southern suburbs of Idlib governorate, killing three children sisters, named as Ritaj, Mais and Saeedah Izzou Zreiq, aged 11, 13 and 16 respectively, and injuring the other members of their family. Just as the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) team reached the site and residents of the area gathered to aid the injured and evacuated victims, the same forces carried out a ‘double tap’ artillery strike at the same site, causing the death of three civilians, including an elderly woman, and Hammam al Asi, a media worker for the Civil Defense agency, as well as injurig two other members of the SCD with various degrees in addition to the severe damage to the house and the surrounding area.
SNHR notes that Mrs. Saeedah al Asi, aged 60, the elderly woman who was killed in the second attack, was the grandmother of the three young sisters killed in the first attack.
SNHR notes that this shelling is a breach of the ceasefire agreement reached following consultations between the Turkish and Russian presidents, which came into effect jn March 6, 2020.
Through this action, Russian forces have, without doubt, committed another violation of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 which prohibit 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 currently standing at 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.