(New York) – Syrian security forces summarily executed over 100 – and possibly many more – civilians and wounded or captured opposition fighters during recent attacks on cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 25-page report, “ In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias ,” documents more than a dozen incidents involving at least 101 victims since late 2011, many of them in March 2012. Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of Syrian forces and pro-government shabeeha militias in summary and extrajudicial executions in the governorates of Idlib and Homs. Government and pro-government forces not only executed opposition fighters they had captured, or who had otherwise stopped fighting and posed no threat, but also civilians who likewise posed no threat to the security forces.
(New York) – Syrian government forces killed at least 95 civilians and burned or destroyed hundreds of houses during a two-week offensive in northern Idlib governorate shortly before the ceasefire, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The attacks happened in late March and early April, as United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan was negotiating with the Syrian government to end the fighting. The 38-page report, “ ‘They Burned My Heart’: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations ,” documents dozens of extrajudicial executions, killings of civilians, and destruction of civilian property that qualify as war crimes, as well as arbitrary detention and torture. The report is based on a field investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch in the towns of Taftanaz, Saraqeb, Sarmeen, Kelly, and Hazano in Idlib governorate in late April.
The Syrian government's crackdown on protesters and armed rebels has produced a seemingly endless stream of grim and grisly days, with more than 9,000 civilians perishing in the violence since March 2011, according to U.N. estimates. Yet some incidents have garnered more international attention than others, either due to the scale of the bloodshed or the savagery of the attack. The slaughter of more than 100 people on Friday in Houla, a series of villages near the Syrian city of Homs, is proving to be one of these incidents. The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned the killings, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan hurriedly organized a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an effort to salvage his peace plan, and governments around the world expelled Syrian ambassadors and diplomats. Der Spiegel is calling the massacre "Syria's My Lai," while Reuters has described it as "an atrocity that shook world opinion out of growing indifference."
Syria – A Journey to Hell : i n the heart of the Syrian Intelligence Service prisons ( Le Monde , 7.6.2012; L'Espresso , 8.6.2012; Le Soir , 11.6.2012; Neue Luzerner Zeitung , 23.6.2012) © LB-Pierre PICCININ [photo : Tal-Biseh] To write is a heavy responsibility.
(New York) – Former detainees and defectors have identified the locations, agencies responsible, torture methods used, and, in many cases, the commanders in charge of 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies, Human Rights Watch said in a multimedia report released today. The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture that Human Rights Watch documented clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity. Interactive Map - Click to Launch (Embed this map in your blog) The 81-page report, “Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria’s Underground Prisons since March 2011” is based on more than 200 interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch since the beginning of anti-government demonstrations in Syria in March 2011.
(New York) – Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the current conflict. Witnesses and victims also told Human Rights Watch that soldiers and pro-government armed militias have sexually abused women and girls as young as 12 during home raids and military sweeps of residential areas. Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 former detainees, including two women, who described being sexually abused or witnessing sexual abuse in detention, including rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity, and electroshock and beatings to genitalia.Many of the former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were imprisoned because of their political activism, including for attending protests. In other cases, the reason for the detention was unclear but detainees suffered the same abusive tactics.
Diplomatic pressure mounts on Syria after Houla massacre Assad’s government faces problems on multiple fronts as the West and the UN blame it for the deaths of over a hundred civilians, though intervention is still unlikely Supporters of the Syrian President's regime hold portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they demonstrate in front of the Syrian cultural center in Paris, on May 29, 2012 in Paris. Diplomatic pressure on Syria has mounted this week, as countries around the world have announced the expulsion of Syrian diplomats in protest at the massacre close to the Syrian town of Houla last weekend, in the province of Homs. More than one hundred people were killed in the attack, including 20 women and almost 50 children, according to reports in Western newspapers.
I spent the last week in Damascus and the atmosphere reminds me of Beirut in 1975 at the start of the 15-year civil war. Again and again in conversations, people realistically laid out for me the nasty things that are all too likely to happen, but few were able to produce plausible ideas on how disaster might be averted. "I wish people abroad would stop talking about a civil war starting here because it is still the people against the government," said one committed member of the opposition as we sat in a café in Damascus (everybody I spoke to has to be nameless, for obvious reasons).
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph DENVER – Much has been said about the similarities between the chaos in Syria and the Balkan wars of the 1990’s. But, while the prolonged killing may indeed be reminiscent, the political and diplomatic effort that finally ended the war in Bosnia is hardly in evidence today.
[The following account of a day in the life of someone living in Homs was first published on the blog Thoughts and Feelings of a Syrian Freedom Fighter .] Life in Homs In here you’ll read exactly what I’ve experienced on Thursday, June 14th, 2012. I woke up at 5 AM after three hours of “sleep,” checked if there’s nearby shooting or shelling, got dressed, and then went out to the bakery.
The rising death toll in Syria this week is set against more high-profile defections Reports of over 200 deaths in town of Taramseh do nothing to help faltering diplomatic efforts to resolve Syrian crisis. A Syrian citizen holds the remains of a projectile shot by a tank near the town of Khan Sheikhun Syria’s civil war entered a new and deadly phase this week, with reports of the largest massacre in the country since the uprising began, the defection of a senior Syrian diplomat and a continuing diplomatic row between the members of the UN Security Council. The Syrian opposition reported on Friday that over 200 people were killed in the town of Taramseh, in the province of Hama, by government shelling, attacks by helicopter gunships, and summary executions by loyalist militias known as shabiha. UN observers are believed to be trying to reach the area to verify the claims.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday she was outraged at “credible” reports of mass killings in the Syrian village of Tramseh, and called for an immediate ceasefire so UN monitors could go in. “I was deeply saddened and outraged to learn of reports of yet another massacre committed by the Syrian regime that has claimed the lives of over 200 men, women, and children in the village of Traymseh,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “Credible reports indicate that this unconscionable act was carried out by artillery, tanks, and helicopters – indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians,” Clinton’s statement continued, calling for Bashar al-Assad to leave power so “a political transition begins.” Maj. Gen.
[ Note: Some of the images in this slideshow are extremely graphic. Viewers should be forewarned. ] Veteran U.S. photojournalist Robert King recently returned from a month-long stay in Al Qusayr, a small town in Syria's Homs Province close to the Lebanese border. For months now the town has been at the center of fighting between the rebel forces of the Free Syrian Army and regular Syrian Army troops loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. During his visit, King managed to capture unique and often gruesome images of one community's struggle against the Syrian government. Above: Wounded civilians and Free Syrian Army soldiers are treated by medical volunteers inside a private home after the field hospital reached capacity.
At 2am on Tuesday April 24, the Palestinian-Syrian intellectual and activist Salameh Kaileh was arrested from his home “without explanation,” as his lawyer Anwar Bunni of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research put it. This is not Salameh Kaileh’s first time in a Syrian prison. He was a guest of the Assad family in its several jails for eight years and eleven days in the 1990s.
A famous Samir Kassir slogan comes to mind when one analyzes the events in Syria, starting with the regime’s military deployment against Deraa and ending with its recent invasion of Aleppo University and its student quarters. “Soldiers against whom?” was the question coined by the professor and journalist, now deceased for almost seven years. 40 years of systematic militarization of Syrian society has failed to eliminate the civic spirit of its youth.
The Opposition and Intervention