War crimes in Syria

Syrian west coast

By Chris Marsden:

Inspectors arrive amid revelations of Syrian opposition atrocities

3 October 2013

Explosive revelations of sectarian atrocities by opposition forces and escalating fighting within their ranks have marked the arrival of international inspectors in Syria.

Yesterday, the Guardian reported of an August massacre of Alawites, the Shia-related sect from which President Bashar al-Assad comes. Jihadists including the Al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took control of five Alawite villages in what was called, “Operation Liberation of the Coast” during the summer.

Some 25,000 Alawite villagers fled to Latakia, as the opposition seized more Alawite villages and reached Aramo, near Qardaha, the Assads’ home town where Hafez al-Assad, the former president, is buried.

The villages were all recaptured by August 19, with little reported by the state media. The Guardian has now interviewed separately military personnel and others in Latakia who have reported bloody massacres and atrocities carried out by the jihadists. Among the reported atrocities, women were raped, babies beheaded and one woman was “sliced in half from head to toe” and hung from a tree. One soldier, Ali, said, “We found two mass graves with 140 bodies. They were not shot. They had their throats slit.”

A list obtained by the Guardian names 62 people killed, 60 kidnapped and 139 people missing, the vast majority women, children and the elderly.

Under the recent agreement between the United States and Russia, inspection teams are to begin overseeing the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons programme, dismantling and destroying an estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal.

However, tensions between Moscow and Washington continue with accusations made that the Obama administration is backing Islamist groups that are vehemently opposed to the negotiated settlement.

The US and Russia agreed to a UN Security Council resolution stipulating that Syria’s chemical stockpile will be eliminated by mid-2014—in itself an extraordinarily problematic undertaking to be carried out by just 100 people in a war zone. But the compromise resolution was only agreed after Russia succeeded in opposing US, French and British plans to include the threat of force if Assad was deemed failing to comply. …

Washington is facing major difficulties due to the breakup of the Syrian opposition into warring camps and the clearly dominant role being played by Islamist groups.

The US-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has been reduced to a husk by the public break of its Islamist components following the US retreat from direct military intervention and the conditional agreement of the SNC to talks with the Assad regime.

The Islamist block of 13 groups includes Jabhat al-Nusra and key military forces previously operating within the Free Syrian Army. This has severely undermined the Turkish-based SNC leadership with the Islamists refusing to recognise any future government formed outside Syria and even excluding the SNC from the country through their control of the border areas.

The other Al-Qaeda-linked group, ISIS, is alone in being left outside the new Islamist formation. ISIS is directly linked to the main Al-Qaida group in Iraq and was formed as a breakaway from Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra. Its exclusion could yet be used as a screen in order to facilitate some future diplomatic dealings by the Islamists with the US and/or Russia.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party government (AKP) cannot reconcile itself to such a setback to its own regional ambitions. Prime Minister Racep Erdogan and others have repeatedly denounced the US for backing off from taking military action.

Today parliament is expected to extend by a year a mandate authorising sending troops to Syria if the government deems there to be a threat to Turkey.

Syrian rebels accused of massacring civilians – Middle East – Al Jazeera English: here.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published yesterday exposes sectarian massacres of hundreds of civilians by US-backed Sunni opposition forces during an offensive in early August, in the majority-Alawite region around the coastal city of Lattakia: here.

Obama botched an earlier Syria peace deal. One year and 80,000 lives ago, the U.N. envoy had carved a path for a government “transition.” But the White House and Hillary Clinton rejected it: here.

26 thoughts on “War crimes in Syria

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  16. Oostenrijk geeft asielzoeker levenslang voor oorlogsmisdaden

    Jules Lemmens

    Een Syrische vluchteling die ongewapende strijders doodde is daarvoor veroordeeld.

    Een Oostenrijkse rechter heeft een Syrische asielzoeker veroordeeld tot een levenslange gevangenisstraf, nadat hij schuldig werd bevonden aan oorlogsmisdaden. De man, waarvan de naam onbekend is, heeft in 2013 en 2014 in de Syrische stad Homs twintig gewonde en ongewapende strijders van het regeringsleger van de Syrische president Assad gedood. Volgens de Oostenrijkse krant Der Standard gaat het om een 27-jarige Palestijn die is opgeroeid in een vluchtelingenkamp nabij Homs.

    De misdaden kwamen aan het licht toen de man zijn bloederige verhaal vertelde aan een mede-asielzoeker in een opvangcentrum in Tirol. Hij was zo verontwaardigd dat hij het verhaal aan de politie meldde. De verdachte bekende eerst de feiten tijdens het verhoor, maar trok die later, na overleg met zijn advocaat weer in. Zijn bekentenis zou verkeerd vertaald zijn. De rechter verwierp dat en de man werd alsnog veroordeeld.

    In Oostenrijk zitten meerdere mensen vast die tegen het regime van Assad vochten, de meesten van hun komen uit jihadistische kringen. Van welke militie de veroordeelde Syriër deel uitmaakte is onduidelijk. Het is de eerste keer dat in het Alpenland iemand wordt veroordeeld voor oorlogsmisdaden tijdens de Syrische burgeroorlog.

    De verschillende oorlogsmisdaden liggen vast in de Conventies van Geneve. Die zeggen onder andere dat het strafbaar is om gewonde soldaten te doden. De man is in Oostenrijk veroordeeld omdat uitlevering aan Syrië niet mogelijk is.

    Nederland heeft nog niemand veroordeeld voor oorlogsmisdaden in Syrië, maar de Oostenrijkers geven volgens Goran Sluiter, hoogleraar internationaal strafrecht aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, wel een goed signaal. “Er wordt erg de focus gelegd op het bestrijden en straffen van terrorisme, terwijl oorlogsmisdadigers in de Syrische oorlog te vaak straffeloos blijven,” zegt Sluiter.

    Trouw 12-05-2017


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