Syrian opposition extremists involved in systematic slaughte

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Syrian opposition extremists involved in systematic slaughte

Postby abuali » 11 Oct 2013, 11:18

Syrian opposition extremists involved in systematic slaughter, says Human Rights Watch

Extremist groups within the Syrian opposition are responsible for the mass killing of civilians, executions and hostage-taking in the countryside of north-western Syria, Human Rights Watch claims in a report released on Friday.

The rights group says an investigation into a military offensive by the rebels found strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the offensive, which began in rural Latakia on 4 August and lasted for two weeks, at least 190 civilians were killed and over 200 hostages taken, according to HRW. The rights group said at least 67 of the victims were executed or unlawfully killed in the attack on pro-government villages.

“These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages.”

The attack is the latest in a series of incidents that demonstrate the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict in Syria, more than two and a half years since the war began.

The coastal region of Latakia is home to the majority of Syria’s minority Alawites, the minority sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. Extremist groups within the largely Sunni opposition have been known to target Alawite and Christian areas in retaliation for government attacks against rebel-held territory.

Among the groups involved in the offensive was al-Qa’ida offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS) and its affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Other Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar and Suquor al-Izz were also involved in the operation.

In recent months, clashes between extremist rebels and more moderate groups within the opposition have been on the rise. ISIS in particular has sought to solidify control of areas they operate in.

The HRW report said that at least 20 distinct armed opposition groups participated in the operation they alternately termed the “campaign of the descendants of Aisha, the mother of believers”, the “Barouda offensive”, or the “operation to liberate the coast”.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented war crimes and crimes against humanity by Syrian government and pro-government forces. These include systematic torture and summary and extrajudicial executions after ground operations.

The HRW investigation involved interviews with residents, survivors, emergency response staff, and fighters and activists on both government and opposition sides.

The report comes as chemical weapons inspectors said they had visited three sites where the weapons are stored across the country, 10 days into their disarmament mission.

Operating on a rare consensus, the UN has tasked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to rid Syria of its stockpile by mid-201. The UN hopes to organise cease-fires between rebels and government forces to ensure safe passage.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 72406.html

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