On 16 August, the President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Dr. Khaled Khoja, delivered a letter to the Security Council in which he called on the UNSC to hold an emergency session on the situation in Douma, Syria. Over the weekend, civilians of Douma suffered a massacre by the Assad regime's relentless aerial attacks on the town's marketplace.
A full copy of the letter is pasted below or can be downloaded here.
H.E. Mrs. U. Joy Ogwu
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
President of the UN Security Council
16 August 2015
On behalf of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and the Syrian people, I write to urge you to call for an emergency session of the Security Council to address the massacre of innocent civilians in Syria over the weekend by aerial raids conducted by the Syrian regime.
What happened this weekend is unconscionable. Assad regime warplanes, backed by occupying Iranian militias, launched a series of ongoing air strikes, shelling systematically cities and towns, including Douma, Zabadani, and Idlib and their surrounding areas. The strikes were not random; the aircraft missiles were deliberately dropped in areas meant to target as many civilians as possible, and the timing of the strikes came at the most crowded rush hours in regular streets and local open-air markets.
It is well known that targeting crowded civilian areas is a war crime and a violation of international law, regardless of any arguments or justifications. However, the regime goes beyond even this, to a new egregious level where civilians in general are its particular target, and it seeks to take down the largest number of civilians in each raid.
Now, under the constant bombardment and with the increasing number of the dead and maimed Syrians, it has become increasingly difficult even for ambulances and rescue teams to recover the wounded and dead. This is especially true given the lack of resources in an area that has been besieged for more than three years, lacking even basic necessities for emergency and health services.
The brutal bombing this weekend of a popular market in Douma city, a rural suburb of Damascus, has resulted in the death of some 100 civilians and the wounding of 300 others. This new massacre is part of a bloody campaign carried out by the regime and Iranian forces around the Ghouta area near Damascus and in Idlib which has claimed the lives of 450 civilians within the past week, most of them women and children.
Indiscriminate aerial attacks using conventional weapons are now responsible for over 60 percent of all civilian deaths across the country. In areas such as Zabadani, aerial attacks are killing civilians en masse, razing civilian infrastructure to the ground and helping to perpetuate a policy of ethnic cleansing. The Syrian regime’s indiscriminate aerial attacks can and must be stopped.
The time to take action to prevent Assad's aircraft from bombing is long overdue. The Security Council has at its disposal the tools to prevent these atrocities immediately. And in the absence of Security Council action, Member States themselves have both the tools and ample legal justification to take the necessary action.
We therefore urge you to call on the Council to convene urgently to address these strikes. We as the National Coalition hold the Assad regime and the occupying Iranian forces responsible for these attacks. Everything must be done in order to punish those responsible and prevent the further loss of life and the destruction in Syria. The people in these areas need more than words, sympathies, and condemnations -- they need action. And they need it now.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
President Khaled Khoja
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces