Syrian Government forces are amplifying the suffering of civilians trapped under siege in Eastern Ghouta, through relentless aerial bombardment and shelling, a new report published by Amnesty International has claimed.
Titled 'Left to die under siege: War crimes and human rights abuses in Eastern Ghouta, Syria,' the report documents evidence of war crimes and describes the Syrian Government's siege on Eastern Ghouta and unlawful killing of its besieged civilians.
The report also exposes abuses by non-state armed groups, particularly the Army of Islam, in the region, which is experiencing struggle for survival by more than 163,000 besieged civilians.
Amnesty accuses Syrian Government forces of carrying out at least 60 aerial attacks on Eastern Ghouta between January and June this year, which killed around 500 civilians.
Approximately ten of the 13 air strikes documented in the report were declared direct attacks on civilians or at best indiscriminate, as the organisation failed to identify any military target.
The regime warplanes are accused of repeatedly firing imprecise rockets and mortars or unguided bombs into populated areas, and civilian buildings or infrastructure, amounting to war crimes.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Programme acting director Said Boumedouha said: "By repeatedly bombing heavily populated areas in a series of direct, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, as well as by unlawfully besieging civilians, Syrian government forces have committed war crimes and displayed a sinister callousness towards Eastern Ghouta's civilians."
The residents are said to have limited access to food, clean water or medical care and essential supplies, including electricity and fuel.
In addition, government forces allegedly denied UN agencies and other humanitarian actors with free access to the area.
According to the Syrian American Medical Society, more than 200 people have died from starvation or lack of access to adequate medical care in the region between 21 October 2012 and January this year.
Boumedouha added: "Withholding food and basic supplies required to survive is a vicious act of cruelty amounting to collective punishment of the civilian population."
Amnesty has urged the UN Security Council to urgently impose targeted sanctions against all parties to the conflict in Syria responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as an arms embargo on the Syrian Government.
Image: Syrian warplanes allegedly fired imprecise rockets and mortars or unguided bombs into populated areas in Eastern Ghouta. Photo: © 2015 Amnesty International.