Three years after pro-democracy protests arose in spring 2011, Syria remains in a state of human rights and humanitarian crisis. The United Nations lists more than 9 million Syrians as refugees and internally displaced peoples, making it the largest current refugee crisis in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians across Syria, including children, have been forced to endure a life of hardship under siege. Most of the sieges are imposed and maintained by forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Others have been mounted by opposition and other non-state armed groups.
Civilians continue to be at the receiving end of frequent indiscriminate attacks by Syrian government forces. Government forces also continue to commit other grave violations, including war crimes such as arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution. Amnesty's documentation provides fresh evidence that such crimes are widespread as well as systematic, and are being perpetrated on an ever-increasing scale and as part of state policy. We also have evidence of the government targeting special groups such as medical workers and journalists. Many Syrians are victims of enforced disappearances.
Amnesty International also has documented abuses by armed opposition groups, including the assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on minority groups. In the areas they control, ISIS forces have committed numerous serious rights abuses, including some that amount to war crimes: They include abductions, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment and unlawful killings.