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Is this de-escalation? Assad regime dropped 244 barrel bombs in July

At least 14 barrel bombs have been dropped on Syria's Homs in July [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2017

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The Assad regime has dropped no less than 244 barrel bombs in supposedly conflict-free zones in Syria, according to a rights group.
The brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad dropped at least 244 barrel bombs in Syria's de-escalation zones throughout July, according to the most recent Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) report.

SNHR regime warplanes dropped the majority of bombs, 142, in the Daraa governorate, killing one woman, followed by 26 in Damascus suburbs, 24 in Suwayda, 18 in Hama, and 14 in Homs.

A ceasefire plan covering four areas of Syria was agreed in May by regime allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey aiming to provide a cessation of hostilities and passage for humanitarian aid.

Assad's forces have repeatedly broken previous ceasefire agreements, according to war monitors.

The report also stated that the percentage of women and children killed by barrel bombs in Syria ranges from 12 to 35 percent, adding that 4,476 barrel bombs were dropped during the first seven months of 2017.

However July saw a decrease compared to previous months, with 412 barrel bombs dropped in May and 938 in April.

The SNHR said the regime has "beyond any doubt" violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254, by using barrel bombs in a widespread and systematic manner, constituting "crimes against humanity."

Indiscriminate bombardment targeting unarmed civilians also amounts to violations of international human rights, SNHR said.

The SNHR urged the UN Security Council to place an arms embargo on the Assad regime, to prosecute those who supply the weapons, and to refer the case to the International Criminal Court.

Last month Russia said its military police will monitor ceasefire zones.

Moscow has been one of the Syrian regime's main military backers, providing air support to Assad's forces since September 2015.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria. 

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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