Using Satellite Imagery to Document Destruction in Syria

BY Larisa Epatko  August 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM EST

Add Syria to the list of places where human rights organizations are using commercially available satellite imagery to document destruction during conflict.

Using satellite imagery of Syria, groups can attempt to reconstruct which units of the government and opposition are operating and where, said Scott Edwards, managing director of crisis prevention and response at Amnesty International USA.

“We just want to make it very clear that all sides of this conflict have an obligation to protect civilians, and any actions, any use of hardware or tactics, that would fail to discriminate between civilians and legitimate targets, or even worse, the targeting of civilian infrastructure, we intend to document,” he said. “We ultimately want to see accountability and justice for these crimes.”

Susan Wolfinbarger, a senior program associate for the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, took a look at two of the images of the town of Anadan near the major city of Aleppo (included in the above slide show). She said the town appears to have many impact craters from artillery — the large number of which and clustering make it unlikely that they were aimed by chance, she said.

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We’ll have more on what the satellite imagery says about the fighting in Syria on Wednesday’s NewsHour. View more of our Syria and World coverage, and follow us on Twitter: