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Middle east

Syria satellite images ‘prove human rights violations’

© DigitalGlobe/Atrium/Amnesty International

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2013-08-07

The advocacy group Amnesty International has released satellite images of indiscriminate aerial bombardment in civilian areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo, which it says prove “utter disregard for the rules of international humanitarian law”.

Combined satellite images analysis and field visits to Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, show extensive damage to residential areas, civilian infrastructure and cultural heritage, Amnesty International has said.

“Aleppo has gone from a city that was the country’s economic capital and largest city to a place where there has been very extensive destruction of human life and of infrastructure, and where tens of thousands of inhabitants have been forced out of their homes,” Amnesty International researcher Donatella Rovera told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday after visiting the city in recent weeks.

Rovera added that Aleppo had been under fire for one year and that daily strikes were continuing. “These bombardments are carried out by government forces, from the air, with ballistic missiles, with artillery, with internationally banned weapons like cluster bombs and generally with weapons that are designed for the battlefield and should never be used in residential areas because they are not precision weapons and they hit civilian homes indiscriminately.”

Evidence for prosecutions?

The advocacy group cited the example of three ballistic missile strikes last February, which killed more than 160 residents and destroyed scores of homes. Satellite photographs show entire rows of houses flattened by the attacks.

Amnesty International has asked the UN Security Council to refer human rights abuses in Syria to the International Criminal Court. According to Rovera, satellite images could be used as evidence in future prosecutions.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science analysed the satellite photographs and concluded that the destruction across the city was more extensive in opposition-held neighbourhoods, which came under attack from government forces.

Amnesty International has also denounced damage to the UNESCO world heritage-listed city of Aleppo, including the collapse of the minaret at the city’s Great Mosque (photo above).

Satellite images before and after missile strikes in Aleppo residential districts

Date created : 2013-08-07

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