Human Rights Watch is calling on the Syrian government to make a commitment during peace talks with the opposition to end what the group says are illegal demolitions.
In a report released on Thursday
, Human Rights Watch detailed demolitions in the central city of Hama and areas in and around Damascus during 2012 and 2013.
It said the affected neighborhoods are widely considered opposition strongholds, and that the demolitions "appeared to intentionally punish the civilian population."
The group based the report on satellite imagery analysis and interviews with witnesses and people whose houses were razed. It says the demolitions covered the equivalent of 200 football fields, including multi-story apartment buildings.
Human Rights Watch wants the government to compensate those who lost homes.
The report cited explanations from government officials and pro-government media saying the demolitions were carried out because of illegal constructions or urban planning efforts, but said witnesses and other officials linked the demolitions to the ongoing violence.
Satellite Images of Destruction in Wadi al-Jouz, Hama in 2013