Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 16 October 2018


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 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on landmines, including UNGA Resolution 71/34 on 5 December 2016.

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, PMN-4, and OZM-72 antipersonnel mines, as well as TMN-46 and TM-62 antivehicle mines. Photographs and a video posted online by the Syrian Center for Demining Rehabilitation on 28 September 2015, 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 indicate they were manufactured in Russia in 1995.


Landmine Monitor has not documented or confirmed during this reporting period (October 2017–October 2018) any use of antipersonnel mines by Syrian government forces or by Russian forces participating in joint military operations in Syria. Non state armed groups (NSAGs) likely continued to use improvised landmines to defend its positions against attack as in previous years, but access by independent sources to territory under NSAG control made it difficult to confirm new use in the reporting period.

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 Islamic State increased. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported several incidents from mines that Islamic State fighters likely laid as the group controlled the territory for prolonged periods of time.[6] Landmine use continued in 2017, with SNHR reporting 12 casualties in Raqqa governorate in just August and September, from incidents in Kasrat Srour,[7] Raqqa City,[8] and Hneida.[9] Syria’s state-run news agency reported in October that a photographer with Syrian state TV had been killed in the central Homs province when a land mine left behind by Islamic State militants exploded.[10]

As Islamic State retreated from former strongholds, it used improvised landmines and booby-traps in a last effort to kill civilians and opposition forces. In October 2017, a British soldier fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) was killed while clearing landmines in the abandoned city of Raqqa.[11] Between September 2015 and January 2017, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) successfully cleared 7,500 improvised mines and other improvised devices from Iraq and Syria.[12]

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, some10 kilometers from the Lebanon border. According to MSF, civilians trying to flee the city have been killed and injured by “bullets and landmines.”[13] In October 2016, residents of Madaya claimed that the Lebanese armed group, Hezbollah, operating together with government forces, laid mines around the town.

During a five-day investigation in Manbij in early October 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) collected the names of 69 civilians, including 19 children, killed by improvised mines, including booby-traps, which were laid in schools, homes, and on roads during and after the fighting over control of the city, involving Islamic State and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—a coalition of Kurdish, Arab, and other forces supported by the United States government.[14] Nearly all the incidents documented by HRW appeared to have been caused by victim-activated improvised explosive devices, rather than by explosives detonated by a vehicle or by remote-control.

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.

[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.

[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.

[6] 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, Abu Qalqal, Al Humar, and Al Dadat. See, SNHR, “Children died in ISIS landmine explosion in Najm village in Aleppo governorate, August 23,” 23 August 2016; SNHR, “Victims died due to ISIS landmine explosion in Abu Qalqal town in Aleppo governorate, September 2,” 2 September 2016; SNHR, “Children died in ISIS landmine explosion in O’wn Al Dadat village in Aleppo governorate in October 4,” 4 October 2016; and SNHR, “Civilians died due to ISIS landmines explosion in Mazyounet Al Humar village in Aleppo governorate, September 21,”21 September 2016.

[10]IS land mine kills Syrian state TV photographer,” Associated Press (Beirut), 17 October 2017.

[11] Lizzie Dearden, “Jac Holmes: British man who volunteered to fight against Isis killed in Syria,” The Independent, 24 October 2017.

[12] Chris Loughran and Sean Sutton, “MAG: Clearing Improvised Landmines in Iraq,” The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction, April 2017.

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

[14] HRW Press Release, “Syria: Improvised Mines Kill, Injure Hundreds in Manbij,” 26 October 2016.