Rights Group Says Syria Committed War Crimes

Posted May 2nd, 2012 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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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 U.N.-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, says 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.”

Houry also says 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.”

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.

U.N. observers say the Syrian military still has heavy weapons stationed in cities, and that the government and opposition have both violated the Kofi Annan plan for ending the conflict.

Mission spokesman Neeraj Singh says the number of military observers in Syria rose to 31 on Wednesday. Under the U.N. plan, the number of monitors in Syria will eventually increase to 300.

“The teams are already in the area, as you know, Homs, Hama, Daraa, Idlib, so in their areas they will be carrying out activities.”

The United Nations estimates at least 9,000 people have been killed since President Bashar al-Assad began cracking down on an uprising against him in March of last year.