Civilians standing in way of pro-Assad forces in Syria risk summary execution -- Amnesty

In an urgent new briefing, Amnesty International warns that in the latest stand off in Syria pro-government forces are killing civilians "with impunity"

by The Commentator on 26 July 2013 12:21

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Amnesty International, the global human rights group, is warning of the prospect of mass killings of civilians by pro-government forces in Syria. In a note highlighting Amnesty's latest briefing, posted up on its website, Amnesty said:

"Eyewitnesses described seeing bodies piled up in the streets and civilians rounded up by pro-government forces.

'"‘[They] brought a big two-litre-size bottle with petrol, poured it over Lou’ay and lit him on fire … they shot him in the head and he collapsed’ - survivor of al-Baydah killings."'

The human rights organisation added:

"Amnesty has warned that all civilians in the vicinity of opposition fighters’ bases in the governorate of Tartous in Syria are at risk of summary execution by pro-government forces, after a spate of killings in and around the village of al-Baydah and the city of Banias."

The United States and governments in Europe have called for an immediate ceasefire and have specifically demanded that civilians not be targeted. However, there is widespread evidence that men, woman and children have been killed by supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad merely on the presumption that they might oppose him, or be in some way sympathetic to people who do.

Amnesty said:

"Last weekend 13 members of the same family in al-Baydah were killed, with the bodies of three brothers found with bullet wounds just outside their home and four female relatives and six children between the ages of two and 13 found dead inside the house. The killings took place shortly after pro-government forces clashed with opposition fighters close to the family’s home.

"In a new ten-page briefing, Amnesty says that more than 250 civilians in the same village and the nearby city of Banias were also killed in May, with eyewitnesses describing bodies piled up in the streets in the Ras al-Naba’ district of Banias, and civilians being rounded up by pro-government forces."

Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director, was quoted as saying:

“Pro-government forces seem to be targeting civilians in these areas with total impunity.

“This raises serious concerns that civilians in al-Baydah and Banias, particularly those in vicinity of opposition fighters, are being targeted as a deliberate tactic to forcibly displace as many civilians as possible in order to leave opposition fighters more exposed and without a local support base."

The human rights group called for the United Nations to be granted immediate access to Syrian territory so as to investigate all allegations of massacres of civilians since the conflict began two years ago.

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