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Country Reports
SYRIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Syria has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty. Syria has been a strong defender of the continued need for antipersonnel mines, and has spoken out against the Ottawa Process. Syria attended the treaty preparatory meetings as an observer, but did not participate in the actual negotiations in Oslo. It did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. Syria was one of just ten states who abstained from voting on the 1996 UN General Assembly resolution urging states to pursue vigorously an international ban on antipersonnel mines (passed 156-0). It was also one of eighteen who abstained from voting on the 1997 resolution supporting the December treaty signing, and one of nineteen who abstained from voting on the 1998 resolution promoting the treaty. Syria has stated that antipersonnel landmines are an important weapon of defense against Israel, and for this reason, it is unable to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.

Syria is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) or its protocol on landmines. Syria is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been a supporter of efforts to negotiate a ban on mine transfers in that forum.

Syria is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel landmines; however, it has no formal restrictions in place which would bar future production or trade. Syria has imported large numbers of mines, but details are not available; likewise there is no information on the current size or composition of the Syrian landmine arsenal.

Minefields have been laid over the past twenty years in grazing areas adjacent to the UN buffer zone. The Golan Heights, currently divided between Israel, Syria and a UN buffer zone, are heavily mined with unmarked and unmapped minefields in which civilians, especially shepherds, suffer casualties on a regular basis.[1] The landmines found are of U.S., Russian, Czech and French origin.[2] The United Nations Disengagement Forces have been involved in mine clearance efforts. Several peacekeepers have been injured or killed by landmines.[3] In 1998, the U.S. State Department noted that Syria may have as many as 100,000 landmines along its highly restricted border areas and that Syria claims it has no landmine problem.[4]


[1] United Nations, Country Report: Syrian Arab Republic. At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/syrianar.htm.

[2] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, July 1993, p. 161.

[3] United Nations, Casualty and Incidents: Syrian Arab Republic. At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/casualty/syrianar.htm.

[4] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. A-3.