Human Rights Watch says Syria uses war crimes to stop rebels, criticizes world powers for lack of action

By Daniel S Levine,

The Human Rights Watch advocacy group criticized world powers today for what they consider lack of action when dealing with the civil war in Syria. The interests in bringing President Bashar al-Assad to peace talks should not stop the international community for responding to the human crisis in the country, the group said.

On Tuesday, the HRC released its annual world report, just a day before a peace conference with international powers on Syria begins in Montreux, Switzerland.

“It is essential that the mass atrocities being committed in Syria be a parallel focus of any diplomatic effort,” HRC executive director Kenneth Roth said in a press conference in Berlin, reports The New York Times. He said that the Syrian government has to stop killing civilians and there needs to be a better way of delivering aid. It’s been reported that 5,000 civilians are dying each month.

“Atrocities in Syria are not an unfortunate by-product of the war -- they are the way the Syrian government has chosen to fight this war,” Roth said, notes Businessweek. It is a “strategy of war crimes aimed at making life as miserable as possible.”

The HRC’s statements come just as a huge collection of evidence that supports claims of war crimes being committed in Syria were obtained by The Guardian and CNN. Three international lawyers told The Guardian that the photographs and evidence appears to show the “systematic killing” of 11,000 detainees.

“We stand with the rest of the world in horror at these images which have come to light,” a U.S. official told The Guardian. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions of the regime and call on it to adhere to international obligations with respect to the treatment of prisoners.”

The official later added, “To be sure, these reports suggest widespread and apparently systematic violations of international humanitarian law.”

In the meantime, the HRC is hoping that the international community could finally take action to stop these war crimes. The group called the crisis there “probably the most acute crisis of the last year.”

image: Wikimedia Commons



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