Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Syria: major brigade of the Free Syrian Army commits against anti-personnel mines and sexual violence

27th October 2014 | Syria - Gender issues - Landmine ban

Hazzm1

Hazzm Movement, a major brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), signed Geneva Call’s Deeds of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, and prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination. The Secretary General of the Hazzm Movement – Khalid Saleh – signed the Deeds in Geneva today.

Hazzm Movement was founded in 2014 as a result of the alliance of 22 moderate Syrian armed groups and is composed of around 5,000 combatants according to recent estimates. Many of its combatants are defected officers and former soldiers of the governmental armed forces who joined the opposition. It is currently fighting both governmental forces and “Islamic State” in Western Syria.

By signing these two Deeds of Commitment, Hazzm Movement pledges to respect the norms contained in the Ottawa Convention as well as the highest international standards related to the prohibition of sexual violence in armed conflict. Over the next few months, Geneva Call and its local partners will be conducting training sessions for several hundred combatants to disseminate the obligations of the Deeds of Commitment and educate them on the rules of International Humanitarian Law.

“Landmine use has been reported in a number of areas in Syria and recent investigations have showed that sexual violence is widespread in the Syrian conflict. Any engagement to prevent landmines from being laid and to protect civilians from atrocities such as sexual violence must be encouraged and we congratulate Hazzm Movement for its commitments” said Elisabeth Decrey Warner, Geneva Call’s President.

“We are greatly concerned by the huge toll paid by the civilian population since the beginning of the war. By signing these humanitarian agreements, we affirm our commitment to conduct our armed struggle in compliance with International Humanitarian Law” added Khalid Saleh.

Hazzm Movement is the second Syrian armed non-State actor to sign these two Deeds of Commitment. The Syrian Kurdish armed forces (YPG-YPJ) signed in June 2014. Discussions on child protection and in particular on the prohibition of the use of children in hostilities are ongoing between Geneva Call and Hazzm Movement.