Report of the Secretary-General
23 April 2014
1. This second report is submitted pursuant to Paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), in which the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to report, every 30 days, on the implementation of the resolution by all parties in the Syrian Arab Republic.
2. The report covers the period 22 March to 21 April 2014. The information contained in the report is based on the limited data available to the United Nations (UN) actors on the ground as well as reports from open sources and Syrian Government sources.
II. Major Developments
3. During the reporting period fighting between Government and opposition forces, as
well as between various opposition groups, continued in many parts of Syria. Fighting was particularly intense in Aleppo, Latakia, Dar’a, Homs and Rural Damascus governorates. Clashes also continued in several other parts of the country, including in Hama, Idleb, Ar-Raqqa and Deir -ez-Zor governorates. The conduct of hostilities by all parties to the conflict, including direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian areas, continued to cause deaths and injuries.
4. In Aleppo, fighting escalated with significant shelling and the continued use of other heavy weaponry by Government forces. The use of missiles and rocket launchers by opposition groups resulted in a high number of casualties and injuries. An average of 20 shells and missiles were reported to have fallen daily on neighbourhoods in both eastern and western Aleppo between the end of March and early April. According to Human Rights Watch, which conducted a review of satellite imagery on 22 February, 1 March and 2 April 2014, there is strong evidence to suggest the use by government forces of indiscriminate aerial bombardment and ground attacks of opposition-held neighbourhoods in Aleppo. This reportedly includes over 85 major places impacted since 22 February with damage signatures strongly consistent with the use of improvised barrel and conventional bombs, resulting in the destruction of a vast number of residential buildings. This damage was particularly evident in opposition held neighbourhoods of Masaken Hanano, al Sakhour, Terbet Lala, Helwaniye, Jabal Badro, Al Heidariyya and Owaija.
5. Since 5 April, armed groups have also launched an offensive in the Al-Layramoun and Al-Zahraa neighbourhoods, in north-west Aleppo city, with armed clashes resulting in scores of civilians injured and displaced. In addition, armed clashes between Government and opposition groups in and around Ramousa town on the southern outskirts of Aleppo city have rendered access to the western part of Aleppo irregular since 12 April. Aleppo city is effectively encircled by armed opposition groups. Fighting, especially near the only supply route from Homs, Damascus and the coast into the city, has raised concerns about fuel shortages and rising food prices and other commodities in both western and eastern Aleppo.
6. In Latakia, armed opposition groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Ansar al-Sham, launched a major offensive on Kassab town and surrounding areas on 21 March, taking control of the adjacent border crossing with Turkey from the Syrian Government. The fighting reportedly led to the forced displacement of over 7,500 people, many of whom have sought shelter in Latakia city. There have been reports of attacks on civilians, as well as looting of civilian homes and religious sites, including churches, although these remain unconfirmed.
7. In Dar’a Governorate, conflict persisted in locations with a heavy concentration of civilians including displaced people. Reports of a high number of aerial bombardments were reported in Dar’a city, Jasim and Ankhal (north Dar’a); Tassil, Tafs and Mzeireb (southwest); and Tiba and Sayda (east of al-Naseeb border crossing with Jordan). This included, for example, the damaging of grain silos storing 25 tons of wheat in Dar’a on 26 March.
8. Government-controlled cities and towns, including Damascus, were subject to indiscriminate mortar attacks and shelling by armed opposition groups. Between 26 March and 1 April heavily populated areas of Damascus, such as Al Midan, Al Mogambo, Al Sulaymaniya, Al Khaldiya and Nile Street, were attacked with mortars, resulting in secondary and tertiary displacement. In the first week of April alone, over 100 mortars were fired on neighbourhoods of Damascus. Opposition groups shelled residential areas in the city including the districts of Al-Malk, Bab Touma, al-Sadat, al-Kabbas and al-Zablatani.
9. Car bombings and suicide attacks, including against civilians, resulted in further civilian deaths and injuries. In particular, multiple instances of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) were reported in the governorates of Idleb, Dar’a, Al-Hasakeh, Latakia and Homs. For example, according to open sources, on 9 April at least 25 people, including women and children, were killed and another 100 were wounded when two car bombs exploded in the Karam al-Luz district, a predominantly Alawite neighbourhood of Homs city. Two volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were among the injured as they arrived in an ambulance to treat people hurt by the initial blast.
10. Fighting near the Khan Danoun Palestinian Refugee camp, in south Damascus, resulted in a number of deaths and injuries of Palestine refugees. Several buildings and a mosque were also damaged. Four Palestinians were taken hostage by armed opposition groups and are still missing. After several hours of fighting the armed groups withdrew from the camp.