The Free Syrian Army is gravely alarmed by the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals by Syrian regime forces. Over the past three years, Syrian armed forces have engaged in a calculated strategy to transform objects indispensable for civilian survival and education into brutal instruments of war. Today, dozens of vital institutions once designated for the care and education of Syrian citizens are being used to shelter combatants, store arms and ammunition, and to serve as military observation posts and shields for military action by the regime.
The deliberate targeting of hospitals and schools and their occupation by military forces represents a direct violation of domestic and international law, as defined by article 3 of the Geneva conventions of 1949. These practices also violate Syria’s own constitution which demands that officials “protect citizen’s health and provide means of prevent, treatment and medication”.
All parties to the crisis in Syria have a legal and moral obligation to protect schools and hospitals and to respect their civilian character. The Free Syrian Army fully supports the demilitarization of all schools and hospitals used for military purposes. We stand ready to work with the international community to ensure the immediate and complete demilitarization of all schools and hospitals under our jurisdiction.
To support these efforts, the Free Syrian Army today states its official position prohibiting the militarization of schools and hospitals, and will amend its Proclamation of Principles to reflect the same. This statement will be circulated among all of our battalions and guide the actions of our members. Any individuals found to violate the principles listed in our proclamation will be held accountable, in accordance with international law.
Ahmad al Jarba
President, Syrian Opposition Coalition
Gen. Abdulilah al Bashir
Chief of Staff, Supreme Military Council