Summary: New satellite images of Aleppo provide the most recent evidence of how the protracted conflict in Syria is resulting in massive human rights violations against the civilian population which is bearing the brunt of the spiralling violence, displacement, and humanitarian crisis.
The new analysis – one of the most comprehensive satellite image analyses of an active conflict zone to date – shows alarming trends in how the conflict is being fought: with utter disregard for the rules of International Humanitarian Law, causing extensive destruction, death, and displacement. The analysis was produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in collaboration with the Science for Human Rights program of Amnesty International.
The devastation revealed in the images has been substantiated by Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who returned from a visit to Aleppo last month.
“Aleppo has been utterly devastated, its people fleeing the conflagration in huge numbers,” said Donatella Rovera, who has spent prolonged periods of time investigating human rights violations on the ground in Syria.
One year ago, on August 6, 2012, Amnesty International released satellite imagery of Aleppo and the surrounding areas in response to an escalation in fighting and reports of an impending offensive. The organization warned of grave risk to civilians in Aleppo and called on all parties to strictly adhere to humanitarian law.
By documenting the vast damage to Aleppo’s infrastructure since that warning was issued, the newly released analysis conducted by the AAAS leaves little question as to a significant cause for the staggering displacement of half of the city’s population: a campaign of indiscriminate air bombardment by government forces, which have also reduced entire areas to rubble and killed and maimed countless civilians. For example, comparative satellite images of neighborhoods devastated by three ballistic missile strikes launched by Syrian government forces between February 18 and 22, 2013, provide alarming evidence of the human toll of escalating tactics deployed by parties to the conflict. These three strikes alone killed more than 160 residents and injured hundreds, in addition to destroying scores of homes, leaving hundreds homeless.