Special Reports  ::   Our Lives Under Russian Attack


Our Lives Under Russian Attack

March 2016


With a population of about one million people, the northern countryside of Aleppo accounts for around 5,000 sq km of the governorate’s total area and consists of several major cities, towns and villages, the largest of which are Azaz, Tell Rifaat, Marea and Afrin.

The area has a strategic significant due to its proximity to the international highway, a logistical supply route connecting Aleppo and Turkey. However, it later became of key importance while acting as the sole road leading out from opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo.

On 19 July 2012, armed factions opposed to the Assad regime seized the strategic city of Azaz, consequently becoming the first city to be liberated from Syrian government control. Following its capture, the armed opposition continued its push for control of other cities and towns in Aleppo’s northern districts, the last offensive resulted in the capture of the checkpoint at Anadan city on 1 August 2012, enabling opposition forces to establish full control over the area, in exception for the towns of Nubul and Zahraa.

By November 2015, Syrian government forces and allied militias initiated – under Russian air cover – several widespread, indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on the northern countryside of Aleppo. These attacks mainly targeted civilians and their property in the local cities and towns forcing them to flee the area. Hundreds of civilians were killed or injured in the assaults, and a state of panic ensued as emergency response units struggled to cope with limited medical supplies and manpower, and with the risks of accessing the areas under shelling. This was worsened by the fact that emergency personnel, as well as hospitals, were also targeted with missiles, barrel bombs, as well as cluster and vacuum munitions. Amnesty International has commented on the shelling of hospitals in the northern countryside of Aleppo, and Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF) issued a report on the bombing of one of the field hospitals they support in the area.
Among the many violations which were included in previous reports on Russian attacks inside Syria, The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) has monitored grave violations regarding Russia’s targeting of vital facilities.

One major crisis which resulted from these attacks was the mass displacement of the local population in the targeted areas. Internal displacement is one of the greatest threats faced by Syrians as the destinations they escape to are often no less dangerous than where they left. Moreover, Turkish authorities continue to close their borders to Syrian refugees fleeing the areas controlled by the Islamic State group (ISIS) fearing the atrocities of the group’s members and institutions. Regime-controlled areas similarly pose a significant threat to residents as government forces, along with the militias that support them, feel antipathy towards locals in areas that witnessed massive anti-Assad protests. Furthermore, males in these areas are often detained or forced to fight on battlefields alongside the government forces. 


لأية ملاحظات أو أسئلة يمكن التواصل معنا عبر بريدنا الالكتروني

للاطلاع على تقاريرنا السابقة باللغة العربية

للاطلاع على تقاريرنا السابقة باللغة الإنكليزية