02 August 2012

(Geneva, 2 August 2012): The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is deeply concerned by recent claims that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – the main armed opposition group currently fighting the Syrian government – intends to use landmines in armed conflict against the Assad regime. On Wednesday 1 August 2012 an Al Jazeera report featured a statement from a combatant who said he was with the rebel group, and that the FSA would re-use antipersonnel mines that they have lifted from minefields laid by Syrian government troops near the Turkish border earlier this year.

“These indiscriminate weapons are far more likely to maim or kill a civilian than a combatant, which is why they’ve been internationally banned. Antipersonnel landmines must not be used by anyone, at any time, regardless of the situation,” said Kasia Derlicka, Director of the ICBL.Since the armed conflict in Syria started, mines have been newly laid on Syria’s borders with neighboring countries. Just this week three Syrians were seriously injured when a landmine exploded on the border with Lebanon. Earlier this year the ICBL condemned the use of landmines by Syrian government troops along the border with Turkey, and called on the international community to do the same. “This is an incredibly worrying claim. The more these weapons are used, the more they will claim civilian victims and ruin more lives. We call on the Free Syrian Army – and all forces involved in the current conflict in Syria – to forbid their combatants from using these weapons and creating a situation that will result only in more suffering for the people of Syria,” Derlicka added.The ICBL is currently working with partner organizations and others to encourage the opposition fighters to publicly renounce the use of antipersonnel mines, preventing further casualties.