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Human Rights Groups Call for Syrian Arms Embargo Amid Barrel Bombing Massacres

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to impose an arms embargo on Damascus, generally citing a surge in the deployment of so-called “barrel bombs” by the Bashar al-Assad regime:

Its statement comes more than two months after a February 22 Security Council resolution demanding an end to attacks on civilian areas. 

HRW said that since then it “has documented at least 85 strike sites in (opposition-held) neighbourhoods of Aleppo city… including two government barrel bomb attacks on clearly marked official hospitals”.

The strikes, most reportedly involving “unguided, high-explosive barrel bombs”, have hit civilians and civilian objects “indiscriminately”.

The group said attacks that cannot distinguish between fighters and civilians are “unlawful”.

Such attacks “continue despite a United Nations Security Council Resolution unanimously passed on February 22, 2014, demanding that all parties in Syria cease the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons in populated areas,” HRW said.

The use of the helicopter-deployed IEDs – which are packed with explosives and shrapnel, and can level entire buildings with a single hit – had long ago been condemned as “barbaric” by Secretary of State John Kerry and denounced by by British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

“The use of this deliberately indiscriminate weapon is yet another war crime, and is clearly designed to sow terror and weaken the will of the civilian population,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told Britain’s parliament.

The Syrian regime’s Iranian backers, for their part, have celebrated the effectiveness of the weapons, and last December a Twitter account associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards reportedly posted that “the easiest way to send infidels to hell is through [the] ‘barrel of death’.”

Activists had in recent days sought to call attention to an increase in the tempo of barrel bomb attacks. Syrian forces had killed hundreds in the country’s third largest city of Homs – where rebels were said to be making a “last desperate stand” – and in its largest population center, Aleppo. Reports that emerged regarding the Aleppo attacks, which included a strike on what Agence France-Presse (AFP) described as “clearly a market” filled with civilians, conveyed “scenes of chaos, with bodies lying amid mounds of grey rubble.”

Tuesday separately saw at least 60 people killed in attacks across Homs and Damascus.

[Photo: MagnificantNewsNetwork / YouTube]