Massacre of Al-Jina Mosque amounts to a full-fledged war crime

On March 16, 2017, at 19:10, Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights ( FFHR/Birati) followed up a missile attack on the town of Al-Jina in the western countryside of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo (some 40km southwest of Aleppo in Atarib district). The aerial strike targeted the mosque of Omar bin Al-Khattab where about 200 worshipers, according to Fraternity Foundation researchers, were killed.

The US Air Force has assumed responsibility for the operation which, according to their statement, targeted a gathering of al-Qaeda.

An initial report by monitors and researchers of Fraternity Foundation has found out the following:

  • The mosque was not a gathering place of Al-Qaida according to the investigation. Rather, it was a preaching center for a local religious community affiliated to a Sufi organization (known in Arabic as Jamaat Ahl Al-Sufiya) which is known as a moderate Islamic movement.
  • The attack targeted a mosque, which is a religious landmark according to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and demolished it to the ground according to the attached photos.
  • A gathering of about 200 people, included by the 1949 Geneva Conventions, were attacked. However the full documentation of the dead and injured has not yet been finalized. According to media reports, the killing of 27 persons has been confirmed in an initial analysis, but there are dozens whose identities have not been known due to the high number of IDPs from other areas in Syria who resorted to the aforementioned village.
  • Al-Qaida itself was not present in Al-Jina, but its affiliates in Syria, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra and now as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, moves along the road linking rural Idlib with Bab al-Hawa border crossing to Turkey. This route is close to the village of Batbo which was targeted before by Russian airfare on November 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm [local time, Syria], when the attack killed 22 civilians, including 2 children and 7 women, and injured more than 50 people, the majority of whom were women and children, and put three clinics out of service.

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (FFHR/Birati) strongly condemns the attack on Al-Jina and expresses its sympathy with the victims. FFHR/Birati calls on the US Administration to investigate the war crime that has been committed there.

  • The international element is based on the planning of the bombing state and carried out by military staff of its citizens.
  • The material element is based on the existence of a war led by the United States Administration against terrorism in Syria, where prohibited acts were committed against the places of worship and historical and cultural monuments. Additionally, people included by the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 were targeted and property were destroyed under the First Geneva Convention, Article 46.
  • The immaterial element depends on the fact that the United States Administration is aware that the act is contrary to custom, international conventions and the rules of war.

Whereas Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (FFHR/Birati) strongly supports the international fight against terrorism – particularly against Al-Qaida and ISIS – led by the efforts of the US in this regard,  we call on the necessity to spare civilians who don’t belong to any of the terrorist organizations from any acts of war which might fuel hatred and increase popular acceptance of the above-mentioned terrorist organizations, and also we (FFHR) call for the immediate protection of Syrian citizens.

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (FFHR/Birati)
March 20, 2017