Syrian rebels ramp up extrajudicial killings, kidnappings – Amnesty Int’l

ce7esyria Syrian rebels ramp up extrajudicial killings, kidnappings – Amnesty Int’l

In two separate reports reviewing the conduct of the rebels andSyrian government, Amnesty said that the killing of governmentsoldiers and suspected government supporters was on the rise asrebel forces continue to gain ground.“[Rebel fighters] are summarily killing people with a chillingsense of impunity, and the death toll continues to rise as moretowns and villages come under the control of armed oppositiongroups,” Amnesty said.“While the vast majority of war crimes and other grossviolations continue to be committed by government forces, ourresearch also points to an escalation in abuses by armed oppositiongroups,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of AmnestyInternational’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “If leftunaddressed such practices risk becoming more and more entrenched -it is imperative that all those concerned know they will be heldaccountable for their actions.”Noting the public sympathy the Syrian opposition continues toreceive in the West, Cilina Nasser of Amnesty said rebel fightersmust be held accountable for crimes against humanity: “It’s timefor the armed opposition groups to know that what they are doing isvery wrong, and that some of the abuses they committed amount towar crimes.”Amnesty said it also investigated one of the most gruesome videosin the conflict to surface in recent months, which showed thebeheading of two Syrian army officers abducted by in the easterntown of Deir al-Zour in August.Nasser said researchers contacted the families of the two men, Col.Fuad Abd al-Rahman and Col. Izz al-Din Badr. The relatives of theslain men told Amnesty the kidnappers had identified themselves asmembers of the opposition group Osoud Tawhid.  They initiallycontacted the family to demand a ransom, but after negotiations thehostage-takers told the family they had killed the two men.In November, a video surfaced of a machete-wielding boy –apparently between 12 and 14 years of age – standing over Col.Badr, who is lying prostrate with his hands bound behind his back.A voice off-camera provokes the youth, shouting: “He doesn’thave the strength.” The boy brings the machete down on Col.Badr’s neck as rebel fighters cheer him on. At least one gunmanthen proceeds to fire six shots into his body.The family of Col. Rahman learned the gruesome nature of his deathafter the beheading was aired on Sama TV.While Amnesty said the footage was most likely authentic, theyacknowledged that many videos can be doctored and corroboratingevidence and witness testimony is needed.In a separate case, a witness told the rights watchdog of aso-called “hole of death” where rebels have dumped thebodies of pro-government fighters or suspected informers. Another witness told the group about a man who was killed by anopposition faction after being accused of collaborating with thegovernment: “We immediately went there and found him on a heapof waste, with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead, afirearm injury to the shoulder… His knee was broken… A brown cardhung on him with the words ‘collaborator [awayni], Col. HelalEid,’” a neighbor told Amnesty.One video reportedly filmed on March 9 in Raqqa, a city which wasoccupied by rebel fighters last week, showed three bodies laid outin a city square in pools of blood. One of the dead was lyingface-down, with his hands tied behind his back. “The dogs ofmilitary security were executed in clock square,” the video’snarrator says.The primary Western-backed rebel group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA),denied that summary execution of captured soldiers was a regularpractice. “We do not deny that it’s happening, but these areindividual cases, people who take revenge because their father orrelatives have been killed by the regime,” Bassam al-Dada, aTurkey-based FSA official, told AP. “This happens in wars allover the place.”FSA has attempted to introduce a code of conduct, with littlesuccess among the numerous rebel factions, particularly theAl-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group, which controls keybattlefronts.Amnesty noted that such abuses had been carried out byFSA-affiliated fighters as well.In a separate report, Amnesty accused government forces of rampingup indiscriminate air and artillery attacks on civilian populationsin recent months, often with the use of internationally bannedmunitions. The group also said that children and civilians wereincreasingly being killed in government airstrikes on rebel-heldterritory.The UN estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed andover 2 million internally displaced in the two-year uprising toagainst the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Syrian rebels ramp up extrajudicial killings, kidnappings – Amnesty Int’l

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