President of the Russian Federation 4 Staraya Square
24 February 2016
This letter is written on behalf of more than 200 Syrian civil society organisations and relief groups, who together provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and services to millions of Syrians. Our organizations have watched your forces brutalize our nation and terrorize our people. Today, and every day, we demand that you remove your murderous foreign forces from Syria – our country.
For four long months, your country has bombed ours. Following your orders, your air forces have killed more than 1,500 of our civilians. They have deliberately destroyed our schools and hospitals. They have committed war crimes and violated the very same Security Council resolutions that your country adopted. Our people will never accept your intervention. Russian forces must leave Syria.
Through your actions and your alliances, you have made your country complicit in Assad’s war on civilians. You have repeatedly violated the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, including Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Security Council resolutions 2258 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2209 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2139 (2014). Across Syria, Russian forces have deliberately targeted and attacked hospitals, medical units and healthcare personnel, despite their explicit protection under international humanitarian law. In Aleppo, your forces bombed a water treatment facility, and your cluster bombs have targeted our schools.
Mr. President, you have said you are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian regime and with the goal of defeating terrorism. But your invitation to Syria came from a brutal war criminal who barrel bombs children, gasses civilians, and drives millions into refuge. Since your forces arrived in Syria, they have killed anyone and anything but ISIS. Independent monitors report 97 percent of your victims are civilians—not terrorists. In fact, ISIS has only grown stronger since your forces came to Syria.
If you were serious about defeating ISIS, you would order your forces to stop killing the moderate Syrians who are best placed to defeat terror. You would disavow your alliance with a war criminal. And you would withdraw from Syria, because you are not and will never be welcome.
We are urging Member States to take action to deter your bombing and to protect Syrian civilians. We are also urging the establishment of accountability mechanisms for all war crimes perpetrated in Syria, including by foreign forces. Those mechanisms should, among others, target those responsible for command and control at the highest levels of decision-making.
To achieve this, we have sent a copy of this letter to the President of the Security Council to be circulated as an official document.
Union of Syrian Civil Society Organisations – representing 92 Syrian civil society organisations in Daraa, Al-Quneitera, Al-Sweida and the Damascus countryside
Syrian General Union of Relief Organisations – representing 120 Syrian charities and relief organisations
Independent Doctors Association – a non-governmental organization of Syrian doctors who provide emergency health assistance for the most vulnerable population in Aleppo governorate
Syrian Women’s Network
Syrian Nonviolence Movement
Rethink Rebuild Society
Palestinian League for Human Rights – Syria
Rami Jarrah, ANA Press
Aref Alkrez, Supporting Abilities and Motivate Awareness (SAMA) Mazen Ejbaei, Help4Syria
Amjad Selo, Syrian Society in Nottinghamshire
Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society
Reem Assil, Syrian Platform for Peace
Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal, Syrian Association of Yorkshire
Dr. Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice for Syria
Amer Masri, Scotland4Syria
Clara Connolly, Syria Solidarity UK
Dr. Mohammad Tammo, Kurds House
Free Syrian Lawyers Association
Read the statement on Save Our Syria.