Eyes on Aleppo: Visual Evidence Analysis
The Syrian Archive has published a new report, “Eyes on Aleppo”, which analyzed and geolocated 1748 videos of human rights violations in Aleppo city and surrounding suburbs in the July - December 2016 period. “We went through about 50,000 videos captured during that time and identified 1260 videos of unlawful attacks, 240 videos in which illegal weapons have been used, and 147 videos against specifically protected persons or objects” - researcher Jeff Deutch stated.
The group has tied video evidence to specific incidents and attacks, finding widespread use of incendiary munitions, chemical weapons, and the unlawful use of cluster munitions against specifically protected persons and objects. Researchers found 24 unique incidents where incendiary munitions were used illegally against civilians and 43 incidents in which cluster munitions were used unlawfully.
This includes twelve unlawful attacks on schools, of which nine had previously not been reported, twelve previously unreported unlawful attacks on markets, five unlawful attacks on bakeries (four previously unreported), and eleven unlawful attacks on hospitals (nine previously unreported).
The Syrian Archive is group of six international researchers working to promote sustainable peace and respect for human rights within Syrian society through facilitating justice and accountability efforts. This includes evidence gathering and documentation of incidents; the acknowledgment that war crimes and human rights violations have been committed by all parties to the conflict; the identification of perpetrators to end the cycle of impunity; and the development of a process of justice and reconciliation.
“While attacks and violations have been committed by all parties, including the international coalition, Turkish forces, and rebel groups, the visual evidence analyzed in this report shows that overwhelmingly, Syrian and Russian forces were responsible for the largest amount of human rights violations in Aleppo city and suburbs during this period” – said Hadi al Khatib, a Syrian who founded the group in 2014.
“We rely mostly on previously verified sources – several hundred field reporters, citizen journalists, humanitarian aid workers as well as local hospitals. Many of our sources have worked to document human rights violations since the beginning of conflict in hopes that one day victims will see justice” – said Jeff Deutch.
“Preserving the hundreds of thousands of pictures and videos recorded by Syrian citizen journalists not only honours those who made great efforts by risking their lives to document these crimes. This material also
forms valuable evidence that can be used in the exposure and investigation of human rights violations by all parties, that will play a vital role in future justice and accountability efforts. We hope that the methodology and open source software we are developing can help similar efforts documenting conflicts in other places in the world” – Hadi al Khatib concluded.