As of Sunday, July 15, the International Committee of the Red Cross now considers the conflict in Syria a non-international armed conflict. The announcement now deems Syria an area of elevated armed conflict, meaning international humanitarian law now applies. ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan commented that with the designation of a non-international armed conflict, the ICRC aims to give victims the “best protection possible.”
The news from the ICRC came as violence spread into parts of the capital that had previously avoided the bloodshed, and just a few days after activists say more than 200 people were massacred in the town of Tremseh, the deadliest day of the conflict. Previously, the Red Cross committee had restricted its assessment of the scope of the conflict to the hotspots of Idlib, Homs and Hama, however Hassan said the organization concluded that the violence was widening. “Hostilities have spread to other areas of the country. International humanitarian law applies to all areas where hostilities are taking place,” Hassan noted Sunday regarding the violence spreading to the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Sunday’s announcement lays the groundwork for international justice. “It means it is more likely that indiscriminate attacks causing excessive civilian loss, injury or damage would be a war crime and could be prosecuted as such,” Andrew Clapham, director of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, told Reuters.