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Governments Should Bolster Respect for Landmark Arms Ban

Governments should reinforce the global ban on chemical weapons by suspending the rights and privileges of Syria, a party to the treaty that has violated it with impunity for years.  This week, states that are parties to the Chemical Weapons…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

Amid Ongoing Bombings, More Protection Needed for Education

In areas of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus held by anti-government armed groups, schools have closed for fear that Syrian and Russian warplanes will bomb them. Instead, local residents have opened informal schools…
Children walk through the rubble of the Tamayuz (“Excellence”) kindergarten in the town of Hamouriyeh after it was hit by a Syrian-Russian airstrike on November 8, 2017. © 2017 Private
News

France Leads Initiative to Combat Impunity

Early on January 22, I began receiving reports from residents in Eastern Ghouta in Syria of chlorine being used in a ground attack on Douma. It was not the first time the besieged town suffered a chemical weapons attack. Almost five…
A man breathes through an oxygen mask at a medical center in Douma, Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 22, 2018.
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Russia Should Change Course and Support the Security Council

When the UN Security Council meets this week to discuss chemical weapons use in Syria, its 15 members should send a strong message to the Syrian government that those responsible for dozens of chemical weapon attacks will be held…
A poison hazard danger sign is seen in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province, Syria on April 5, 2017. © 2017 Abdussamed Dagul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
News

Accountability Needed for Chemical Attacks in Syria

Evidence keeps mounting that Syrian government forces were behind a chemical attack that killed nearly 100 people in Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria in April. Today, a United Nations-appointed commission of inquiry released a report in…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

Death of Detained Activist Puts Spotlight on Syria’s Ghastly Prison System

Yesterday Noura Safadi said that she had received confirmation that the Syrian authorities executed her husband, Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil, two years ago. Noura had been looking for Bassel since he disappeared from a Syrian prison in…
Bassel Khartabil
News

OPCW Releases Report on Khan Sheikhoun April Attack

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released yesterday its report on the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria that killed at least 90 people. The OPCW concluded the attack used sarin, a…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

Russian Veto Over Chemical Attacks Shows Need for Evidence Gathering

On April 12, Russia’s United Nations ambassador raised his hand to mark Moscow’s eighth veto against a resolution aimed at addressing appalling atrocities in Syria. The failed resolution would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in…
Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov votes against a draft resolution condemning the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at the United Nations Headquarters in Ne
News

Recent Attacks on Saraqeb Caught on Video

Videos and photographs taken last weekend in the city of Saraqeb, in northwestern Syria, show the unmistakably bright trails produced by incendiary weapons. The ZAB incendiary submunitions used in the attacks are delivered by RBK-500 bombs and contain…
Screenshot of a video taken in April 2017 in Saraqeb, northwestern Syria, showing the bright trails produced by incendiary weapons.
News

Exposure after Aircraft Attacked Town of Khan Sheikhoun

Dozens of people showed symptoms consistent with exposure to chemicals after aircraft attacked Khan Sheikhoun, a town in northern Syria, witnesses told us. While we are continuing to investigate, early reports suggest dozens were killed. Khan Sheikhoun is…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

Laws of War Prohibit Use of Indiscriminate Weapons in Populated Areas

As fighting has flared up between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine over these past two days, we have spoken to people trapped on both sides of the line of contact. “Here we go again,” groans a friend in separatist-…
One of the many unguided Grad rockets photographed by Human Watch researchers in eastern Ukraine in 2014-2015
News

Says Hostile to Privacy, Democratic Freedoms

This week, the European Union’s top court once again found that blanket data retention mandates are hostile to privacy and democratic freedoms, and incompatible with EU law. Such mandates require service providers to store data on all of the provider’s…
News

Horrors in Syria’s Besieged Eastern Aleppo Continue, But Civilians in the West Under Fire Too

The small child cries hysterically on the hospital bed, covered in dust and blood. The video, posted by the pro-Syrian government news agency al-Akhbariya, shows scene after scene of civilian men, women, and children injured from what they say were…
MENA Syria Aleppo old city destruction October 2016
News

Video Footage Shows Incendiary Weapons Mounted on Russian Attack Aircraft

Several major media outlets are reporting that Russia’s state-run television has broadcasted footage appearing to show Russian aircraft at its airbase in Syria equipped with “cluster bombs.” The clip was deleted from YouTube after analysts published the…
Footage showing what Human Rights Watch arms experts have identified as RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM incendiary bombs mounted on a Russian attack aircraft at a Russian air base in Syria, June 18, 2016.
News
A left-wing political activist has been convicted of inciting separatism and extremist activities, the latest in a series of criminal prosecutions in Russia against people who dare speak their minds online. Unless the…
Russia's President Putin meets with representatives of Internet Initiatives Development Fund outside of Moscow, March 27, 2015.
News
The Internet has been long described as an “island of freedom” in Russia’s dramatically shrinking space for free speech – the cyber inheritor of the kitchen, which was the only (relatively) safe place for debate in the Soviet era. But, alarmed by this…
News
Visiting the site of an attack by pro-Russian rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on February 10, President Petro Poroshenko said: “It is savages who use cluster munitions against civilians.” The Ukrainian president’s words echoed the…
News
It speaks volumes when the leader of a country feels emboldened to respond with humor when asked on television about a deadly weapon that is responsible for the deaths and maiming of thousands of his citizens. In a BBC interview broadcasted…
News
Evidence indicates that Ukrainian government forces fired cluster munitions at Luhansk city in eastern Ukraine last week, killing two civilians and injuring two more. These weapons are banned by 116 countries because of the danger they pose to civilians…
News
Between 9 and 10 this morning, a salvo of unguided Grad rockets struck the eastern district of Mariupol, a government controlled city in eastern Ukraine. Two other rocket attacks struck in the area later in the day. As of this writing, local authorities…