13 mars 2018
Debarati Guha, Benjamin-Samuel Schlüter (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) - UCL), Patterns of civilian and child deaths due to war-related violence in Syria (2011–16)
Since March, 2011, the Syrian civil war has lowered life expectancy by as much as 20 years. We describe demographic, spatial, and temporal patterns of direct deaths of civilians and opposition combatants from conflict-related violence in 6 years of war. We analyzed conflict-related violent deaths with complete information on date, place, and cause of death and demographic group occurring from March 18, 2011, to Dec 31, 2016, recorded by the Violation Documentation Center (VDC). Aerial bombing and shelling rapidly became primary causes of direct deaths of women and children and had disproportionate lethal effects on civilians, calling into question the use of wide-area explosive weapons in urban areas. Increased reliance on aerial bombing by the Syrian Government and international partners is likely to have contributed to findings that children were killed in increasing proportions over time, ultimately comprising a quarter of civilian deaths in 2016. The inordinate proportion of civilians among the executed is consistent with deliberate tactics to terrorize civilians. Deaths from barrel bombs were overwhelmingly civilian rather than opposition combatants, suggesting indiscriminate or targeted warfare contrary to international humanitarian law and possibly constituting a war crime.