Overview of Attacks Against Civilian Infrastructure During the Syrian Civil War, 2012–2018

Download PDF
Evan Muzzall, Brian Perlman, Leonard S. Rubenstein, Rohini J. Haar
Publication Date
September 1, 2021
Publication Type
Journal Article
Conflict, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law, Public Health


Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed during the Syrian civil war and millions more displaced along with an unconscionable amount of destroyed civilian infrastructure. This study collates these data from three sources and presents the first known overview of civilian strikes by describing the relationships between the year, location, perpetrator, weapon and affected infrastructure types. Analyses of these data indicate that, among other correlations, the Syrian government is correlated with attacks that specifically target healthcare facilities, the Russian military is correlated with violence in Aleppo, and the US Coalition is correlated with violence in Raqqa. These results provide epidemiological and data-driven support for empirical evidence of civilian violence. The study offers important contributions into how data science methods can be used to analyse complex conflict data. The associations we identified support physical and documentary evidence of civil destruction and underscore that the violence against civilians in Syria is widespread. These data are critical to supporting the Syrian people as they look towards rebuilding health systems, reconstructing civil societies and seeking accountability for violations of international humanitarian law.