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Armed Syrian opposition groups accused of committing 'serious human rights abuses'

Damascus, Wed, 21 Mar 2012 ANI

Damascus, Mar 21 (ANI): Syria's armed opposition groups have carried out serious human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and execution, a rights group has claimed.


Human Rights Watch said in a public letter to the Syrian National Council (SNC) and other leading Syrian opposition groups that abuses also include torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabeeha.


According to some statements, certain armed attacks by opposition groups were motivated by anti-Shia or anti-Alawite sentiments arising from the association of these communities with government policies.


"The Syrian government's brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.


"Opposition leaders should make it clear to their followers that they must not torture, kidnap, or execute under any circumstances," Whitson added.


A number of witnesses told Human Rights Watch that non-state armed groups identifying themselves with the opposition are kidnapping both civilians and members of the security forces.


In addition to politically motivated kidnappings, Human Rights Watch also received information indicating that other armed groups may be kidnapping people, sometimes claiming to be operating in the name of the opposition. "Marwan," an Alawite resident of Karam el Zeytoun, Homs.


Human Rights Watch has also reviewed at least 25 videos on YouTube in which Syrian security forces or their alleged supporters confess to crimes under circumstances in which it appears that their statements were made under duress.


At least 18 of these videos show detainees who are bruised, bleeding, or show other signs of physical abuse.


Human Rights Watch has yet not independently confirmed the authenticity of these videos. (ANI)


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