|Islamic extremists in Syria cited for war crimes
A rights group accused jihadists in Syria of war crimes, saying they killed 190 civilians from President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority, in the largest atrocity attributed to rebels in the conflict.
The accusations by Human Rights Watch said another 200 people – the vast majority women and children – were taken hostage in the operations that took place in August and are still being held, AFP reports.
The report, which urged an arms embargo on any group suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity, said at least 67 of the victims were “executed or unlawfully killed.’’
HRW said the killings began on August 4, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday ending the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in a sweep of villages in Latakia province, an Alawite stronghold.
“These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,'' said HRW's Joe Stork. “This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population.''
The 105-page report, based on interviews with 35 survivors, emergency personnel and fighters on both sides, said at least 20 groups were involved, but that five ``are responsible for specific incidents that amount to war crimes''.
It named them as Ahrar al-Sham, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Muhajireen Wal-Ansar and Suqur al-Ezz.
HRW said that, in some cases, opposition fighters executed or gunned down entire families, or killed the elderly or infirm who had been left behind by those who fled.
It cited some witnesses as seeing corpses that had been bound and others that had been decapitated.
HRW also said “some of the opposition atrocities... had clear sectarian motivation.''