Trending Topics

Syrian Rebels Accused of War Crimes

syria-warHuman Rights Watch reported Friday that Syrian rebel fighters committed “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in an Aug. 4 assault, killing at least 190 civilians when they began a large-scale offensive to take back government-controlled areas in Latakia province where many members of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect live in rural villages.

According to Al-Jazeera, the report said it is not clear what role, if any, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – the armed wing of the main opposition coalition that is openly supported by the United States, Britain, France and Sunni Muslim Gulf states – played in the offensive.

The high civilian death toll and the nature of the wounds – gunshots and stabbings – as well as the presence of 43 women, children and elderly among the dead, suggest that armed rebel groups intentionally or indiscriminately killed residents, HRW said. More than 200 hostages were taken during the offensive, according to the rights group.

Indiscriminate Killing

Witnesses described how opposition forces executed residents and opened fire on civilians, sometimes killing or attempting to kill entire families who were either in their homes unarmed or fleeing from the attack, the BBC reported.

HRW says about 20 opposition groups took part in the offensive and that five were involved in the attacks on civilians – the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar, Ahrar al-Sham and Suqour al-Izz.

The report says ISIS and Jaysh al-Muhajirin were still holding the hostages, most of them women and children.

The government launched a counterattack the next day and regained control of the area on Aug. 18.

Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at HRW, said the abuses were “not the actions of rogue fighters.”

“This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages,” he said.

HRW says evidence, including witness statements and a review of hospital records, showed opposition forces executed or unlawfully killed at least 67 of the 190 dead civilians who were identified.

It says the high civilian death toll and the nature of the recorded wounds “indicate that opposition forces either intentionally or indiscriminately killed most of the remaining victims”.

What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Back to top