News / Middle East

UN: Syria Mass Executions Could Be War Crimes

Activists and rebel fighters remove buried bodies in one of the headquarters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), that had been an ISIL stronghold before it was captured by rival rebel forces, beside Bureij roundabout on the road to Sheikh
Activists and rebel fighters remove buried bodies in one of the headquarters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), that had been an ISIL stronghold before it was captured by rival rebel forces, beside Bureij roundabout on the road to Sheikh
VOA News
The U.N. human rights office says armed opposition groups in Syria, particularly an extreme al-Qaida-linked faction, are committing a "soaring" number of killings in the country's north that could amount to war crimes.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday that reports in the past two weeks have documented numerous mass executions of civilians and fighters no longer participating in hostilities in the cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa.

She said the killings were carried out by "hardline armed opposition groups in Syria," in particular the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL].

Also Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Iran "inevitably" will become part of attempts to end Syria's civil war, as Moscow strongly urged the West to invite Tehran to participate in next week's peace talks in Switzerland.

Lavrov met with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts, Javad Zarif and Walid al-Moallem in Moscow.
 
The U.S. has opposed the involvement of Iran, the strongest regional ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, fighting on the ground in Syria continued.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the two weeks of clashes between ISIL and other rebel forces in northern Syria has killed nearly 1,100 people, including 130 civilians, some of whom were executed.

Pillay said some of the killings appear to have been carried out when rebel fighters abandoning bases slaughtered people in their custody, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Jihadists factions such as ISIL were initially welcomed by other rebels, but allegations of brutal abuses against civilians, as well as rival opposition fighters, has sparked a backlash.

The United Nations delivered aid to two besieged areas under opposition control near the capital, Damascus, on Thursday, a day after it said Syrian authorities had promised to allow humanitarian supplies through to areas cut off by fighting.

A U.N. spokesman said a convoy assisted by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had brought food, medicine and winter relief supplies to Al Ghuzlaniyah, close to Damascus airport.

On Tuesday, Syria's government and the main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, agreed to allow humanitarian aid into some blocked-off areas.

  • Fighters from the Free Syrian Army's Saif al-Umayyad brigade prepare rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Jan. 16, 2014.
  • Men ride a motorbike past buildings damaged by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Daraya, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Smoke rises from buildings after what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk at the Tameko pharmaceutical factory after the FSA claimed to have taken control of the factory, in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • A girl carries her belongings as she walks on rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Arbeen, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • This SANA photo shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to female preachers from mosques in Damascus and its countryside and educators of religious high schools and institutes in Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Syrian refugees wait to enter Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, Jan. 13, 2014.
  • Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown from helicopters on Daria outside Damascus, Jan. 12, 2014.
  • Damaged buildings are pictured in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 12, 2014.
  • Residents inspect the damage caused by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant suicide bombers at the Tawhid Brigade and Al-Fateh brigade headquarters in Aleppo, Jan. 12, 2014.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs