[JURIST] US-backed Kurdish forces and other militant groups have been committing war crimes [press release] in northern Syria in an effort to quash any sympathy or support for the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Tuesday. According to the report, militant groups have cut off civilians’ food, life-saving services and other basic necessities. The efforts by these groups have been mostly targeted at Arabs and have reportedly displaced thousands of Syrians throughout the country. AI criticized the Syrian government, stating that “they have maintained unlawful sieges, restricted humanitarian assistance deliveries, deliberately attacked civilians, and carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, arbitrary detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances.” AI called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and possibly refer the issues to the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Court.
IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. In August Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned [JURIST report] the destruction of Palmyra’s ancient temple of Baalshamin by IS militants, labeling it a war crime. In March the UN released a report saying that other actions by IS may be war crimes [JURIST report]. In February the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly released a report [JURIST report] detailing violations against Iraqi civilians under the spread of IS. Also in February IS led suicide bombings in eastern Libya, killing at least 40 people [JURIST report] and injuring 70 more. IS said this was the group’s way of retaliating against Egyptian airstrikes protesting the IS presence in Northern Africa.