UNITED NATIONS – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has accused the Syrian troops, intelligence officers, as well as terror groups, of using sexual violence as s tactic of warfare.
“Sexual violence continues to be used by parties to the Syrian conflict as a systematic tactic of warfare, terrorism and torture,” he wrote in a report.
“Women and girls have been most vulnerable in the context of house searches, at checkpoints, in detention facilities, after kidnapping by pro-government forces, and at border crossings, while men and boys have been subjected to sexual violence during interrogations in government-run detention centers,” Guterres added.
According to the UN Secretary General, “thousands of Yazidi women and girls who were captured in Iraq in August 2014 and trafficked to Syria continue to be held in sexual slavery, while new reports have surfaced of additional women and children being forcibly transferred from Iraq to Syria since the start of military operations in Mosul.”
Guterres called on “all parties to the Syrian conflict to immediately cease the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war or terrorism, and urge such crimes to be taken into account in ceasefire agreements, political negotiations, peace processes and accountability initiatives.”
“I encourage refugee-receiving countries to protect and support Syrian refugees who may have suffered sexual violence or be at risk of exploitation,” he said.
Among those responsible for sexual violence in Syria, Guterres mentioned the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia), Army of Islam and Ahrar al-Sham terror groups, as well as the government troops, the National Defense Forces militia and intelligence services.
The US Secretary General stressed that “while many countries are affected by the threat, occurrence or legacy of conflict-related sexual violence, the present report is focused on 19 countries for which credible information is available.” The 19 countries particularly include Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
Guterres stressed that “the acknowledgement of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism, integral to recruitment, resourcing and radicalization strategies, links this issue formally to global action aimed at curbing terrorist financing, including the work of relevant sanctions regimes.”