A UN official said on Friday that a video [YouTube video; WARNING: graphic content] posted on the Internet of Syrian rebels executing government soldiers who had surrendered may be evidence of war crimes. Syrian rebels killed 28 government soldiers in attack around the town of Saraqeb on Thursday. The video appears to depict the rebels executing [Reuters report] some of the soldiers after they had surrendered. The UN official stated that once the soldiers surrendered they appeared to no longer be combatants, thus executing them was a war crime. The UN called for an investigation into the executions and for the offenders to be prosecuted. An estimated more than 32,000 people have been killed since the Syrian rebellion began.
The Syrian government has been in conflict with the Free Syrian Army [official website] since 2011, and the international community has become increasingly concerned about the violence. Ban and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil El Araby [official website] called for a ceasefire [JURIST report] between the conflict's parties last Friday, notably in light of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. Also last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called on the international community to work to bring an end to the Syrian conflict [JURIST report]. Her statement came after Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported earlier this month that the Syrian government was using cluster bombs [JURIST report] against opposition forces. In September, UN investigators reported [JURIST report] that the number and frequency of human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict were increasing rapidly.