Syria: Constant Disrespect for Humanitarian Law as Conflict further Internationalizes

This post has been originally published on Descontamina’s Webpage.


Priscyll Anctil Avoine
Corporación Descontamina

Columna 7.1

Fuente: The Guardian, Syria Civil War Five Years

This week, in the class I give on Conflicts and International Relations, as we were analyzing the regionalization and the internationalization of the Syrian armed conflict, a tragic event occurred: a hospital in Aleppo city has been completely destroyed, causing the death of 50 people, including children and doctors from Doctors without Borders (MSF). The last pediatrician of the area was killed[1][2]; MSF twitted:

Columna 7

It seems that peace is not even an option. Western powers are constantly disrespecting Humanitarian Law, arguing upon national defense and terrorism threat, as a rhetoric that seems to have become usual since 9/11. In turn, the national government of Syria, under Bashar Al-Assad regime is openly bombing civilian targets, as it was the case for the hospital of Aleppo, arguing on his duty to protect the country from being divided.

The Syrian conflict[3] has begun with social protests against dictatorship, the rapid increase of food prices while the country witnessed the decrease of labor opportunities and the failure of democratic dialogue with Al-Assad in the midst of the Arab Revolts[4]. Bashar Al-Assad perpetuated his power thank to the robust association between the armed forces and the Ba’ath party as well as the strongly established economic and political oligarchy in Damascus, coupled with his strategic alliances with Iran and Russia[5] (Barbas, 2015). The response to social protests from the regime has been marked by intransigence and repression, opening a fertile ground for armed resistance to organize. Quickly, various armed groups were created, latter gathered under the umbrella of the organization Free Syrian Army, that has not been able to consolidate a clear and unify opposition group to the government mostly due to its internal fragmentation in more than 70 groups. Together with the multiplication of these armed groups, the conflict further escalated with the involvement of local, regional and transnational actors, (especially, extremist groups and international superpowers such as United States, Russia, France, etc.), the increasing sectarian and ethnic divisions, the highly preoccupying situation of internal and external refugees and the competencies for natural resources such as petroleum and natural gaz. All these actors has further regionalized and internationalized the Syrian conflict, and at this moment, the consequences of this war are transnational, and highly worrying for the regional context and international geopolitics[6]. This has had tragic humanitarian consequences as bombings are not diminishing, extremist factions are gaining power and peace talks are stagnating: it is estimated that more than 470 000 people have died in the conflict, more than 12 million people have been forced to displace and 60% of the hospitals and health centers have been completely or partially destroyed[7].

From Descontamina, we wish to invite you to support the campaign in order to pressure the UN for a resolution that reaffirms the necessity of Humanitarian Law and the compromise acquired by the different states with regards to its principles. One of them is to ensure that hospitals and health centers should never be targets of war as this implies even more civilian victims and, severe obstacles to humanitarian aid. We invite you to watch and share this video with the following hashtags as to take part of the pressure to the UN Security Council decision[8] that will be taken on May 3rd: #NotATarget and #NoSonUnObjetivo.

[1] Sanz, J.C. (April 28th, 2016). El ataque a un hospital apoyado por Médicos Sin Fronteras en zona rebelde de Alepo causa 27 muertos. El País. Retrieved from: [Consulted 29/04/2016]

[2] Hurtado, L.M. (April 29th, 2016). El gobierno sirio bombardea un hospital de Alepo durante la tregua. El Mundo. Retrieved from:[Consulted 30/04/2016]

[3] We recommend the following websites as they offer a different point of view on Syrian war: and

[4] Arab Revolts (sometimes erroneously called the Arab Spring) begun with the protests in Western Sahara in Gdeim Izik camp when Moroccan government brutally repressed the people, killing 11 of them in October 2010. However, there are a lot of debates with regards to the starting point of the Arab Revolts as many analysts situate the commencement in Tunisia with the immolation of a young Tunisian in the city of Sidi Bouzid.

[5] Barbas, J. M. (2015). El conflicto en Siria y el rol de la comunidad internacional. Cuadernos de Marte, año 6(8), 201-228.

[6] Prado Pérez, R.E. (2015). La reconfiguración de los conflictos armados en las relaciones internacionales: la internacionalización del conflicto en Siria. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, Año LX (224), 187-220.

[7] Black, I. (April 3rd, 2016). Syria peace talks resume in Geneva as regime-held areas hold election. The Guardian. Retrieved from: [Consulted 30/04/2016]; Barbas, J. M. (2015). Op.cit.

[8] For further information, please see the Webpage of MSF: Information in Spanish is available here: [Consulted 30/04/2016]