Below is the text of the Syrian Coalition's 25 June 2014 letter to the UN Security Council in response to the UN Secretary-General’s 4th Report on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2139.
On behalf of the people of Syria and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Syrian Coalition), it is my solemn responsibility to draw your attention to the grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by the Syrian regime, in direct contravention of UN Security Council resolution 2139.
Four months after the UN Security Council unanimously demanded an end to the violence in Syria, the humanitarian situation there continues to worsen. Nearly three million Syrians are now registered as refugees. Nine million people are in need of care, while 214,000 Syrians go without access to food, water and medical care in besieged areas. Despite the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the situation in Syria is not improving. On the contrary, with each day that passes, the lives of ordinary Syrians worsen.
It does not have to be this way. Millions of lives would improve immediately were the Syrian regime to abide by its legal duty to implement UN Security Council resolution 2139. Yet the Syrian regime consistently refuses to do so. Instead, it engages in daily indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians, medical facilities and schools, in direct violation of UN Security Council resolution 2139.
During the past month alone, the Syrian regime perpetrated three massacres in civilian locations in Al-Shajara, Saqba, and Sukarri. As detailed in Annex I, on June 18, an improvised camp for internally displaced people in southern Syria was struck by regime air forces in a barbaric massacre that left more than 50 people dead, among them women and children. The destruction prompted the UN Secretary-General to condemn “in the strongest terms the continued heavy shelling, aerial attacks and use of barrel bombs by the Syrian government.” Just two days earlier, Syrian regime air forces deployed barrel bombs on a civilian neighbourhood in Sukarri, Aleppo, killing more than 45 people.
Medical facilities and personnel have also been met by the regime’s violence. Over the course of the past month, regime forces attacked two medical facilities in Rif Dimashq and Rif Idleb, leaving over a dozen dead and medical facilities in ruin. On 3 June, the Syrian regime shelled the Syrian Red Crescent’s hospice care office in Homs, resulting in three deaths.
Throughout the past month, Syrian armed forces have continued their sieges of Eastern Ghouta, Daraya, Yarmouk, Hajr al Aswad and Muadamiyat al Sham in an effort to starve hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians into submission. As the UN Secretary-General recently stated, “Starving besieged communities into surrender is not a victory.” Yet this is precisely the strategy employed by the Syrian regime in areas such as Homs, where a recent ceasefire was forged on the basis of coercion and deliberate starvation.
The wilful obstructionism of the Syrian regime offers a stark contrast to the dedication shown by the Syrian Coalition and our partners on the ground, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) and the Interim Government, in our efforts to implement UN Security Council resolution 2139. Throughout the past month, we have:
i. Demilitarized hospitals in Aleppo: As demanded by OP 10 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the FSA recently demilitarized two national hospitals in Aleppo and Izaz Cities, previously occupied by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). Following the FSA’s successful liberation of these ISIS-held hospitals, our forces instructed local councils to operationalize these facilities with the help of international nongovernmental organizations.
ii. Worked to end the siege of Deir Ezzor: As required by OP 5 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the Syrian Coalition worked actively to end the siege of Deir Ezzor, where 30,000–40,000 people are currently trapped by Assad’s forces to the south and west and ISIS to the north and east. The Syrian Interim Government recently allocated 85 million Syrian Pounds to support the displaced people of Deir Ezzor, more than 150,000 of whom have been uprooted from their homes.
iii. Delivered assistance to southern Syrian cities: As stipulated by OPs 5, 6 and 7 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the ACU cooperated with donor organizations to provide secure relief to those in need in Dara’a and Quneitra, delivering 2,031 tons of flour, as well as medicine. The ACU completed the establishment of the Al Shajara refugee camp, equipping it with the necessary kitchen, sanitation and toilet facilities. The camp now meets Sphere standards. The Interim Government’s Ministry of Health also announced the formation of a Directorate of Health in the province of Quneitra, which is now working to provide medical supplies to those in need.
iv. Vaccinated 1.39 million Syrian children against polio: As demanded by OP 8 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the ACU-run polio task force vaccinated 1,393,173 Syrian children during the sixth round of its anti-polio campaign in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Deir Ezzor, Lattakia, Raqqa and Hasaka.
v. Rejected terrorism and combated ISIS: As demanded by OP 14 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the FSA countered ISIS incursions into northern Syria, successfully defeating ISIS extremists in Aleppo and Idlib. As we have proven repeatedly, FSA forces are united in rejecting terrorism in all its manifestations. The people of Syria do not want extremism, and they do not want ISIS to infest their lands. That is why in June we condemned ISIS’s reign of terror in Iraq, in a letter to the Security Council.
vi. Demanded Implementation of Geneva Communiqué: As stipulated by OP 15 of UN Security Council resolution 2139, the Syrian Coalition pressed for a political solution to the Syrian conflict. In June, we issued a statement reaffirming our commitment to the political process and demanding the full and immediate implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. The Syrian Coalition continues to view the Geneva Communiqué as the framework for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which the Secretary General recently reaffirmed as well.
vii. Attended the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict: As discussed in OP 1 of the UN Security Council resolution 2139, the Syrian Coalition sent an official delegation headed by Vice President Nora Al Ameer to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict from 10-13 June. The delegation also included the Minister of Culture and the Family Affairs of the Interim Government Taghrid al-Hadjli, member of the Syrian Coalition and the Kurdish National Council Havaron Sharif, and former female detainee Asmaa’ al-Faraj. The delegation attended both official and side meetings, including with the British Minister for the Middle East and North Africa. Vice President Nora Al Ameer delivered a speech at the ministerial meeting, where she discussed the progress being made by the Syrian Coalition in the fight against sexual violence and its efforts on accountability and transitional justice.
The Syrian Coalition and its partners on the ground are committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2139. All Syrians must receive access to humanitarian aid—irrespective of their religion, sect, ethnicity or politics. However, despite our best efforts, millions of Syrians continue to be denied life-saving assistance as a result of the Syrian regime’s refusal to abide by international law.
If lives are to be saved in Syria, then it is critical that the UN Security Council not allow Assad’s intransigence to come at the expense of millions of Syrians. On behalf of the Syrian people, the Syrian Coalition therefore asks that members of the Security Council act without delay to enforce UN Security Council resolution 2139, in particular by calling on the UN to implement cross-border access in opposition-held territories. The Syrian Coalition and FSA stand ready to provide secure access in the areas under our control. It is now time for the UN to exercise its legal mandate to facilitate that access.
It is likewise critical that members of the Council reject the Syrian regime’s policy of starvation into submission. In cases like Homs, the UN Security Council should be clear: it cannot accept a temporary cessation of hostilities forged on a brutal and illegal policy of siege warfare. Ceasefires such as those reached in Homs must be viewed as a deterrent—not as a model—for the future brokering of peace.
Your Excellency, the rising death toll and humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria is not inevitable. The Syrian regime can be stopped, and so can ISIS. A democratic, stable Syria—built on pluralism and the rule of law—is still possible. However, it requires concerted international action by a determined Security Council. On behalf of the people of Syria, we ask that you find the unity needed to stop the suffering in Syria, and bring peace and stability to our country.
Please accept, your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Dr. Najib Ghadbian
Special Representative of the Syrian Coalition to the United Nations