[JURIST] Opposition fighters in Syria are committing war crimes [press release], including torture and extrajudicial and summary executions, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Monday. HRW documented war crimes in the cities of Aleppo, Latakia and Idlib. Although opposition fighters initially assured HRW they would not commit war crimes, when HRW confronted them with information about the violations they said the people executed deserved to die. “Time and again Syria’s opposition has told us that it is fighting against the government because of its abhorrent human rights violations,” Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East Director at Nadim Houry said. “Now is the time for the opposition to show that they really mean what they say.” HRW wants the UN Security Council (UNSC) [official website] to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], which would have jurisdiction to investigate violations by both government and opposition forces.
Earlier this month the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) [official website] called for increased aid [JURIST report] for the 2.5 million Syrians affected by the ongoing civil uprising against President Bashar al-Assad [JURIST news archive]. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requested an immediate investigation [JURIST report] into civilian deaths in Syria. Earlier in August the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) ceased its work [JURIST report] in the country, with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmund Mulet stating that the mission’s work had to be stopped because the two conditions required by the UN Security Council to renew the UNSMIS mandate—the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and the reduction in violence from all sides—were not met. Also in August UNSMIS chief Lieutenant General Babacar Gayee expressed concern [JURIST report] about the growing number of civilian casualties in violent clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups. In June a UN commission stated that Syrian forces may have been responsible [JURIST report] for the killing of more than 100 civilians in Al-Houla in May. Assad denied [JURIST report] the allegations stating that “not even monsters” would carry out the attacks.