HRW condemns Syrian opposition’s war crimes

In a reversal of its usual role, Human Rights Watch on Oct. 11 released a report and a news article summarizing the report that exposed and condemned commando groups fighting against the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.

The HRW’s board is heavily biased toward investment bankers and analysts. Most of its international reports have been directed at governments that are out of favor with U.S. or Western imperialism. In this case, however, the HRW is exposing the role of groups that have been fed and armed by the U.S. and its NATO and Gulf monarchy allies.

WW has already written about the many war crimes committed by the anti-Assad forces and their imperialist backers in Syria. This is just one of them, as told by the HRW:

“Armed opposition groups in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and seized over 200 as hostages during a military offensive that began in rural Latakia governorate on Aug. 4, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today [Oct. 11]. At least 67 of the victims were executed or unlawfully killed in the operation around pro-government Alawite villages.

“The 105-page report, ‘You Can Still See Their Blood: Execution Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside,’ presents evidence that the civilians were killed on Aug. 4, the first day of the operation. Two opposition groups that took part in the offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, are still holding the hostages, the vast majority women and children. The findings strongly suggest that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said.

“‘These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,’ said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages.’

“To provide victims a measure of justice, the U.N. Security Council should immediately refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said.”

Whether or not HRW’s report reflects a shift in tactics by the imperialists toward Syria, whose government forces have successfully pushed back the armed opposition forces in recent months, it does expose some of the crimes the “rebels” have already committed.