Syria is contaminated with anti-personnel mines and cluster munition remnants

Cluster Munition Remnants

Anti-Personnel Mines
  • Performance

    Not Applicable

Key Developments

A ceasefire agreement brokered in March 2020 between Türkiye and Russia, who support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, has brought a relative but fragile calm to the country. The earthquake that hit the north of Syria on 6 February 2022 may have displaced explosive ordnance, including cluster munition remnants (CMR), into areas that were previously cleared or had not been previously impacted. On 6 November 2022, Syrian and Russian forces fired cluster munitions on four camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), killing eight civilians and wounding dozens of others. In December 2022, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) officially handed over the first plot of cleared land to the local authorities in the outskirts of Damascus.

In the north-east of Syria, the mine action sector faced operational delays due to the newly established de-facto mine action centre of the north-east (the north-east of Syria mine action office, NESMAO), requesting signature of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) as a precursor to operators continuing their field activities. The discussions with NESMAO reached a stalemate on two occasions, leading to the suspension of activities for four months. Restrictions were eventually lifted, MoUs signed, and operations resumed. The HALO Trust (HALO), which operates in the north-west of Syria, received authorisation to carry out explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and use explosives to dispose of explosive ordnance in July 2022.

In government-controlled territories, the number of qualified clearance operators has increased with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) receiving its accreditation in early 2023. UNMAS has taken a role of coordinating the mine action area of responsibility covering the whole of Syria.

Recommendations for Action

  • Syria and its ally, Russia, should immediately cease the use of cluster munitions.
  • Syria should accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) as a matter of priority.
  • Syria should create the necessary structures to oversee an efficient mine action programme, namely: a national mine action centre (NMAC), a national mine action authority (NMAA), and a centralised information management (IM) system. The process should be underpinned by the adoption of mine action legislation and a multiyear strategic plan.

Download the full 2023 report for Syria

Click here to download the full "Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2023" report for Syria.