Wednesday, May 02, 2012

HRW Says Syria Committed War Crimes

Regime Forces Reportedly Massacred Villagers

An international rights group Wednesday accused the Syrian government of committing war crimes, while opposition groups said rebels killed 15 security force members as a UN-brokered cease-fire continues to unravel.

Human Rights Watch says Syrian forces and pro-government militias killed at least 95 civilians between late March and early April in the northwestern province of Idlib, in the lead-up to the April cease-fire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

The Middle East deputy director for the rights group, Nadim Houry, said villagers were rounded up and killed.

“We've documented the extrajudicial executions of at least 35 civilians. These were people that came under the custody of the army and security forces and were shot, in some cases point blank, after they were taken out of their homes.”

Families and Communities Targeted

Houry also said Syrian forces appeared to have aimed at families and communities.

“We've documented dozens and dozens of cases of houses that have been burned intentionally or destroyed, not from shelling, but actually from soldiers going in and setting them on fire,” Houry said.

The Syrian government says it is fighting what it calls armed terrorists and says it reserves the right to defend the national against insurgency despite a cease-fire.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels killed 15 security force members in an ambush in Aleppo province on Wednesday.

A day earlier, rights groups and activists said at least 30 people were killed during violence, including nine family members in an Idlib province village.