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Country Reports
SYRIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: Syrian engineers cleared mines in the Golan Heights under UN Disengagement Observer Force supervision between November 1999 and May 2000. Although it was previously believed that Syria had not produced mines, Jordan has declared possession of Syrian-made mines.

Mine Ban Policy

Syria has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty and justifies its stance by stating that antipersonnel mines are important weapons of defense. Syria has claimed that landmines are vital to its defense against Israel. Syrian officials have noted that a “just and comprehensive peace in the region may put an end to many problems and sufferings and create a mine-free region.”[1] It is not known if mine issues are being addressed as Syria and Israel engage in peace talks.

Syria has not made any public statements about its landmine policy, or participated in any diplomatic meetings on landmines, in 1999 or 2000. Syria abstained on the vote on UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B in support of the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 December 1999, as it had in previous years on similar resolutions. Syria is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, Stockpile, and Use

Landmine Monitor Report 1999 stated, “Syria is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel landmines.” However, in its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report, Jordan declared possessing fifty-one wooden antipersonnel mines of Syrian origin.[2] The lot number of the mines was reported as 10-24-58. This would seem to indicate at least past production on Syria’s part. It is not known how these mines came into Jordan’s possession, but this fact also calls into question whether Syria has ever exported AP mines. Syria is thought to have a large stockpile of antipersonnel mines but the numbers, origins and types of mines are not known.

Syrian forces used both antipersonnel and antitank mines in the Golan Heights during the 1973 war with Israel and during the 1982 conflict in Lebanon.[3] It is not known whether Syrian troops currently in Lebanon possess or use mines. In July 2000, a senior Israeli officer expressed concern about Syria spreading more mines near the border with Israel.[4]

Landmine Problem

The Golan Heights contain both minefields and UXO from prior conflicts (see report on the Golan for more details of the situation in Israeli-controlled areas). The degree to which other areas of Syria are mined is not clear. At least one of Syria’s neighbors, Jordan, deployed nearly 67,000 AP mines along its border with Syria in 1971.[5] It has also been reported that Turkey’s border with Syria is mined.[6]

Syria has not publicly refuted the U.S. Department of State report that states, “Syria may have AP and AT mines deployed in highly restricted areas along its borders where military troops are located and claims that it has no landmine or UXO problem.”[7] The report estimates that there may be 100,000 mines in Syria.[8]

Mine Clearance and Mine Awareness

Syrian engineers cleared mines in the Golan Heights under UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) supervision between November 1999 and May 2000.[9] Engineers from the Russian Armed Forces are reported to have conducted demining operations in Syria but the scope and location of their operations is not known.[10]

Some mine awareness activities have been conducted in Syria in the past year. The Syrian Red Crescent Society in Damascus has participated in activities to create awareness of the landmine problem as well as of methods to assist victims of landmines. On 25 March 2000 an art exhibition organized by the Syrian artist Asem Al Wali opened in Damascus. The themed exhibit included pictures and drawings of Syrian landmine victims.[11]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Civilians, military personnel, and international peacekeeping forces from UNDOF have suffered casualties from mines in areas of the Golan Heights controlled by Israel and Syria, as well as in the zone of separation. A landmine injured a Syrian shepherd on 6 April 1999. A landmine injured two children in the zone of separation on 14 April 1999.[12] Another Syrian shepherd was injured in the Golan on 12 September 1999.[13]

There is no distinct mechanism in Syria for the provision of assistance to landmine survivors. Basic health and social services in Syria are provided free of charge by the government and most landmine survivors have access to emergency medical care, physical rehabilitation, amputation surgery, post-operative care, prosthetic devices, wheelchairs and special education. There is, however, a need for self-supporting projects that assist people with disabilities, including landmine victims. There are several NGOs located in Damascus involved in the assistance of people with disabilities.


[1] Interviews with Syrian Foreign Ministry officials, Damascus, February and 2 April 2000.
[2] Jordan’s Article 7 Report, Form B, submitted to the UN on 9 August 1999.
[3] Anthony Cordesman and Abraham Wagner, The Lessons of Modern War, Volume 1: The Arab-Israeli Conflicts, 1973-1989 (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1990), p. 69 and p. 183.
[4] “IDF concerned why Syria built 3 empty villages on border,” Ha’aretz (Hebrew edition), 3 July 2000.
[5] Jordan’s Article 7 Report, Form C, submitted on 9 August 1999.
[6] “Turkey Hindered by Own Landmines on Syrian Border,” Reuters, 6 December 1996.
[7] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, 1998, p. A-3.
[8] Ibid., p. A-2.
[9] UNDOF Report to the UN Secretary General, S/2000/459, 22 May 2000, p. 1.
[10] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 813.
[11] The exhibition was conducted in Al Assad Library and opened by the Minister of Defense on 25 March 2000.
[12] UNDOF Report to the UN Secretary General, S/1999/575, 18 May 1999, p. 1.
[13] UNDOF Report to the UN Secretary General, S/1999/1175, 15 November 1999, p. 1.