On October 4, 2016, rebel troops in Syria reportedly launched rocket attacks targeting buildings on the campus of the University of Aleppo. The university is located in an area currently controlled by the Syrian regime. Reported casualties range from two to five students killed, and as many as 12 students injured.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent targeting of university facilities in armed conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets; where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Likewise, parties must refrain from using higher education facilities for military purposes during active conflict. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.