Turkish President Tayyid Erdogan is warning the world that a Syrian government offensive to recapture Idlib, the last remaining rebel stronghold, would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe, and beyond. Last week, Russian and Syrian warplanes resumed their bombing campaign of the rebel enclave in an apparent prelude to a full-scale offensive. The United Nations has previously warned of a massacre and humanitarian catastrophe involving tens of thousands of civilians in the event of a government offensive.


This report examines attacks on schools in Syria from multiple angles: from the legal implications of such attacks to the everyday impact on students, teachers, families, and society at large. It is the product of Save Syrian Schools, a collaborative project led by 10 Syrian civil society organizations and ICTJ that demands an end to the killing of Syrian children and justice for the bombing of schools.

Date published: 
Mon, 09/10/2018 - 08:41
Communications Associate, Editor


A new report on attacks on schools in Syria harnesses documentation to call attention to atrocities and advance storytelling, truth seeking, acknowledgment. It is the product of Save Syrian Schools, a collaborative project led by 10 Syrian civil society organizations and the ICTJ that demands an end to the killing of Syrian children and justice for the bombing of schools.  


Since the Syrian Civil War broke out seven years ago Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million refugees, the majority of those who had fled the war torn country. While Syrian refugees say they do not feel they are being pushed out of Lebanon, they still experience restrictions such as being banned from certain jobs, public parks, and the ability to move freely around the country. Some people say they still prefer living in the refugee camps to returning home, but as President Bashar al-Assad retakes control of the country thousands of others have already made the journey home.


As Syrian President Bashar Assad tightens his grip in Syria, activists who lost the challenge to Assad on the streets of Syria are waging a new fight in European courts. In June, Germany’s Federal Supreme Court issued charges and an international arrest warrant for one of Syria’s most senior military officials. A network of over 30 exiled Syrian lawyers across Europe has been helping to collect evidence and documentation of crimes against humanity for use in an envisioned future prosecution.


The Syrian government has started to update civil registries to reflect deaths among its incarcerated population. Mass arrests and torture were allegedly used by the regime of Bashir al Assad to suppress anti-government protests that swept the country in 2011. For years, families who had a loved ones arrested had no news about their whereabouts or status. As the government updates the registries, activists fear the news of hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths may follow.


Since 2011, the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a member of the Save Syrian Schools coalition, has been compiling a database of human rights abuses committed by all sides in Syria’s civil war. Testimonies and raw data gathered by a network of employees and volunteers across Syria is sent to legally trained verification officers outside the country, who use their larger networks to clarify and verify what they receive before sending it to a secure server in Denmark.


Doctors, lawyers, and activists in Syria are working to bring perpetrators of gender-based violence to justice, as well as to help rehabilitate victims. Syrian activists are working to break down the stigmas surrounding sexual violence, with the goals of documenting the abuses for future legal battles against those responsible in the Syrian government and military and helping victims deal with their trauma.


A Franco-Swiss cement company has been charged with complicity in crimes against humanity and financing terrorism over alleged payments to insurgents, including the Islamic State, in Syria. The company is accused of paying “taxes” to, and buying materials from, nearby insurgent groups in order to keep its factory in northern Syria operational. 

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UN investigators said that forces loyal to Syria’s government committed crimes against humanity during the five-year siege of Eastern Ghouta, a largely residential area on the outskirts of Damascus. A report, released this week, says government-allied forces deliberately starved the civilian population in an effort to force them into submission, a clear violation of current war crimes statutes.

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