Thursday, July 26, 2012

Syria: Disturbing reports of summary killings by government and opposition forces

25 July 2012

"Reports that government forces and armed opposition groups have been deliberately and unlawfully killing captured opponents in Syria bolster the need for all sides to commit to abiding by international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said today.

Earlier this week, the bodies of 19 unarmed men and one child were found in several locations in the Damascus neighbourhood of al-Mezzeh, after – according to local activists – having been killed by government forces who suspected them of aiding rebels in the area. Activists said that some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs and some bore marks indicating they had been tortured before being killed.

Although Amnesty International cannot directly confirm these reports, they mirror a pattern documented by the organization elsewhere in the country.

“Amnesty International has been documenting unlawful killings carried out by state forces and government militias in Syria for months. . Our field research in northern Syria found scores of mainly men and boys – most of whom who had not been engaged in hostilities – being summarily killed by government forces, and shabiha militia members, after prolonged shelling of city districts, towns and villages suspected of harbouring opposition fighters and supporters,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“We have also been investigating reports that members of armed opposition groups have been responsible for the killings of captured members of the security forces [What do you do with those directly involved in war crimes? Do you release them and say, don't do it again?] and other unlawful killings. The leadership of all sides must make it clear that they will not tolerate such abuses by anyone under their command.”......"

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