Syria war: executions condemned as violence continues ‘on both sides’ of border with Turkey

© UNICEF/Delil Souleiman On 11 October 2019 in the Syrian Arab Republic, a woman holds a child as families displaced from Ras al-Ain arrive in Tal Tamer, having fled escalating violence.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Amid ongoing fighting in northern Syria and disturbing reports that extrajudicial killings have been streamed online, the United Nations and their partners are continuing to deliver humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of people displaced by the violence, UN agencies stressed on Tuesday.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described the security situation in northeast Syria as “highly volatile”, with continuing reports of airstrikes and ground attacks linked to Turkey’s military incursion.

“On both side of the border, civilian deaths are being reported”, Mr. Laerke said.

To date, at least 160,000 civilians have been displaced since the offensive began last Wednesday, according to UN figures, with hospitals and schools and other public infrastructure hit or affected by the fighting.

UN will deliver ‘until it becomes impossible to do so’

Highlighting the commitment of the UN and its partners to “stay to deliver until it becomes absolutely impossible to do so”, Mr. Laerke noted that the organization continues to operate out of the town of Qamishli for the time being.

“The United Nations remains in Qamishli along with our staff,’ he said. “But we have seen of course that in some areas where there is active fighting, it is for obvious reasons, impossible to go there. And aid is being redirected towards areas where those who can help are moving.”

Echoing that message and at the same appealing for security guarantees for all humanitarians, Herve Verhoosel, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that 130,000 people “will receive food soon because that’s already (been) dispatched”.

Of that number, 83,000 have already received food, he added, noting that it “is arriving where the people need it the most”.

Airstrike reportedly responsible for civilian, journalists’ deaths

Although the civilian toll is unclear, given the difficulty of verifying information in a conflict zone, Marixie Mercado from UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, confirmed the deaths “of at least four children and the injuries of nine in north-east Syria”, along with seven other youngsters in Turkey.

Another incident – reportedly linked to a Turkish airstrike on the Tel-Tamor to Ras al-Ain Highway, on Sunday 13 October – resulted in the deaths of four civilians including two journalists, UN human rights office, OHCHR, said.

“The worst incident we are aware of so far, which we are still seeking to fully verify, is a report that at least four civilians, including two journalists, were killed and tens of others injured when a convoy of vehicles was hit by a Turkish airstrike,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville explained.

Inside Turkey, the authorities reported that 18 civilians have been killed since the conflict escalated last week, Mr. Colville added, “including a nine-month-old baby, by cross-border mortar and sniper fire by Kurdish fighters”.

Disturbing video footage has also emerged of what appear to be executions on another highway that were then streamed online, by forces linked to the Turkish military.

“We have received reports and viewed two separate pieces of video footage showing what appear to be summary executions carried out by fighters belonging to the Ahrar Al-Sharqiya armed group, which is affiliated with Turkey, on 12 October,” Mr. Colville explained.

“One of the videos – both of which have been widely shared on social media – seems to show the fighters filming themselves capturing and executing three Kurdish captives on the Al-Hassakeh – Manbij Highway…Only one of the captives appeared to be wearing military uniform.”

The UN human rights office has also received reports indicating that a well-known Kurdish female politician, Hevrin Khalaf, was also executed on the same highway, allegedly also by Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters.

Under international law, summary executions are serious violations, OHCHR said in a statement, and may amount to a war crime.

Around 70,000 children displaced: UNICEF

At least 170,000 children could need humanitarian assistance as a result of the violence, UNICEF’s Ms. Mercado added, noting that 70,000 children have been displaced since hostilities escalated last week.

Most have sought shelter with relatives, friends and host communities, but there are also 33 collective shelters “mostly schools and unfinished buildings” across Al Hasakeh city, Raqqa city and Tal Tamer, Ms. Mercado said.

They host around 3,400 people “but the numbers fluctuate quickly as most people do not stay long”, she added, while OCHA’s Jens Laerke noted that the organization was providing aid there.

“We heard about 33 shelter points further to the south in Al-Hassakeh; so, of course we try to move aid to where people are,” he said.

WHO confirms further deliveries of medical supplies

Underscoring the impact of the conflict on already weakened health services, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 40 tonnes of medical supplies would be dispatched to Qamishli later on Tuesday, to complement the nearly 15 tons of life-saving aid that reached the city’s National Hospital on Monday.

Elsewhere, in the embattled northeast, “the national hospital in Ras Al-Ain is currently out of service and the national hospital and two health centres in Tel Abyad are also currently non-functional”, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said. “Health facilities in camps hosting displaced people in Mabruka, Ain Issa and Ras Al-Ain were also evacuated, with additional facilities under threat as the conflict rapidly moves forward.”

In Al-Hol camp, where about 64,000 children and women are housed – some with suspected links to ISIL fighters – the WHO spokesperson noted that the three field hospitals had reduced their services since 12 October, because the hostilities had impeded the access of health staff.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brexit: political groups discuss options for an orderly withdrawal

A very good morning in European markets

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into compensation for early closure of lignite-fired power plants in Germany

Rohingya cannot become ‘forgotten victims,’ says UN chief urging world to step up support

‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

Will AI make the gender gap in the workplace harder to close?

The global issue of migration in 2017

How Pakistan is aiming for a green recovery from the pandemic

NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Belgium’s €5.9 billion recovery and resilience plan

In Christchurch, UN chief calls for tolerance, solidarity to extinguish ‘wildfire’ of hate speech

Commission to invest €14.7 billion from Horizon Europe for a healthier, greener and more digital Europe

Medical students: catalysts to close the gender gap

Can autonomous cars make traffic jams a thing of the past?

Russia’s permafrost is melting and it could have a devastating global effect

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

“China will strive to enhance the performance of economic growth”, President Xi highlights from the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos

Monday’s Daily Brief: US-DPRK relationship reset, ‘Horrific’ Kabul bombing, Anti-conscription plan in Syria, Climate change heat stress, Security Council in Iraq

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

European Commission Joint Research Centre opens world-class laboratories to researchers

The world condemned by neo-liberals to feed trillions to banks: the New Deal exorcised

Mergers: Commission approves the merger of Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn division, subject to conditions

What paleoecology can teach us about fires in the Amazon

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

3 reasons why civil society is essential to COVID-19 recovery

Panama’s fight for a delayed right: women’s economic independence

14 innovative projects helping to save the planet and make the world a better place

Italy can stand the US rating agencies’ meaningless degrading

Scale of displacement across Myanmar ‘very difficult to gauge’, says UN refugee agency

FROM THE FIELD: Niger supporting the most vulnerable, as crises mount

6 ways least developed countries can participate in the 4IR

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

International partners pledge $1.2 billion to help cyclone-hit Mozambique recover, ‘build back better’

Commission welcomes agreement on the modernisation of EU export controls

One migrant child reported dead or missing every day, UN calls for more protection

Japan’s agro-food sector would benefit greatly from policies to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable resource use

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

5 ways to boost sustainable trade in the world’s poorest countries

The West unites against Mali desert rebels

Sweden gives all employees time off to be entrepreneurs

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

5 surprising ways major cities are going green

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

Recovery effort will fizzle out quickly if there is no long-term perspective

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Women that inspire women

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into Broadcom and sends Statement of Objections seeking to impose interim measures in TV and modem chipsets markets

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

European Union launches WTO trade dispute against Colombia’s unfair duties on frozen fries

Inside the battle to counteract the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Where are the world’s nuclear weapons?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s