Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 06 December 2016


The Syrian Arab Republic has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Syria has articulated the same position on the ban treaty for years without change: it is concerned with the plight of mine victims, but views antipersonnel mines as necessary weapons as shown by its use of the weapons since 2011. Syria also considers Israel’s continued annexation/occupation of part of the Golan Heights as a key reason for not joining the treaty.[1]

Syria last participated as an observer in a Mine Ban Treaty meeting in 2006.[2] It has rarely made any public statements on its landmine policy or participated in treaty meetings as an observer.

Since 1996, Syria has abstained from voting on every annual pro-ban UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on landmines, including UNGA Resolution 70/50 on 7 December 2015.

Syria is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 September 2013.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Syria is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines.

The size and origin of Syria’s mine stockpile is not known, but it is believed to be significant and comprised mainly of Soviet/Russian-manufactured mines including PMN-2 and OZM-72 antipersonnel mines and TMN-46 and TM-62 antivehicle mines. Photographs and a video posted online by the Syrian Center for Demining Rehabilitation on 28 September 2015 and allegedly filmed west of Daraa in southern Syria show up to 20 PMN-4 antipersonnel mines being removed from the ground.[3] This is the first evidence of use of the PMN-4 in the Syria conflict, but it is unclear who laid them or when. Markings on the mines indicates they were manufactured in Russia in 1995.


Prior to the current armed conflict that began in 2011, Syria was last believed to have used landmines in 1982 during the conflict with Israel in Lebanon. Little was known about the extent of its landmine problem, but the most significantly mined areas were in the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights, in the southwest of the country, in addition to its borders.

In late 2011, the first reports emerged of Syrian government use of antipersonnel mines in the country’s border areas.[4] A Syrian official acknowledged the government had “undertaken many measures to control the borders, including planting mines.”[5]

In 2016, reports of mine use by the so-called Islamic State (IS) and Syrian government forces increased. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported several incidents from mines that IS fighters likely laid as the group controlled the territory for prolonged periods of time. For example, in Aleppo governorate alone, SNHR reported civilian casualties in August, September, and October 2016 from landmines that IS apparently laid in the villages of Najm;[6] Abu Qalqal;[7] Al Humar;[8] and Al Dadat.[9]

In January 2016, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres, MSF) reported that Syrian government forces laid landmines around the town of Madaya in Rif Dimashq governorate, some 10 kilometers from the Lebanon border. According to MSF, civilians trying to flee the city have been killed and injured by “bullets and landmines.”[10] In October 2016, residents of Madaya claimed that the Lebanese armed group, Hezbollah, operating together with government forces laid mines around the town. A medical group and a media organization reported that “operating thave been laid around the edge of the town.[11]

In March 2016, Syrian government forces in the city of Palmyra reported that they were finding landmines planted by IS fighters.[12]

During a five-day investigation in Manbij in early October 2016, Human Rights Watch collected the names of 69 civilians, including 19 children, killed by improvised mines, including booby-traps, laid in schools, homes, and on roads during and after the fighting over control for the city, involving IS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—a coalition of Kurdish, Arab, and other forces supported by the United States government.[13] Nearly all the incidents documented by Human Rights Watch appeared to have been caused by victim-activated improvised explosive devices, rather than by explosives detonated by a vehicle or by remote-control.

[1] Telephone interview with Milad Atieh, Director, Department of International Organizations and Conventions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 January 2008; and interview with Mohd Haj Khaleel, Department of International Organizations and Conventions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Damascus, 25 February 2007. See also, statement of Syria, Seminar on Military and Humanitarian Issues Surrounding the Mine Ban Treaty, Amman, 19–21 April 2004.

[2] A Geneva-based Syrian diplomat attended as an observer the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2006.

[3] “28 9 2015 أزالة الألغام التي زرعتها قوات النظام في الحي الشرقي بمدينة بريف درعا,” video clip, YouTube, posted on 28 September 2015, See also Conflict Armament Research, “Russian PMN-4 anti-personnel landmines in Syria,” 1 October 2015.

[4] ICBL Press Release, “ICBL publicly condemns reports of Syrian forces laying mines,” 2 November 2011.

[5]Assad troops plant land mines on Syria-Lebanon border,” The Associated Press,1 November 2011.

[10] MSF, “Syria: Siege and Starvation in Madaya,” Brussels, 7 January 2016.

[11] See, “Injured by one of 8,000 landmines in desperate escape bid, Madaya man faces double amputation,” Syria Direct, 5 October 2016; “Madaya: Starvation Under Siege,” Syrian American Medical Association, January 2016, p. 1; and Monitor email interview with Kristen Gillespie Demilio, Editor-in-Chief, Syria Direct, 7 October 2016.

[12] Raf Sanchez, “Syrian regime troops struggle to clear explosive booby traps in Palmyra,” The Telegraph, 28 March 2016.

[13] Human Rights Watch Press Release, “Syria: Improvised Mines Kill, Injure Hundreds in Manbij,” 26 October 2016.