A look at atrocities in Syria's civil war
BEIRUT (AP) — International human rights groups say the vast majority of atrocities in Syria's civil war have been committed by the regime, but violations by those fighting to topple President Bashar Assad are on the rise as rebels gain more territory and a multitude of militias, jihadists and criminals join the armed opposition. Over 36,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011. The following are some of the atrocities committed over the course of the conflict.
MAJOR ATROCITIES ON THE REGIME SIDE:
— Late August, 2012: Activists reported that between 300 and 600 people were killed in the Damascus suburb of Daraya over several days in a killing spree by troops and pro-regime militiamen who stormed the town after heavy fighting and days of shelling.
— June 14, 2012: Dozens of people were killed in the town of Haffa after Assad's forces overran it as part of a major offensive to recover rebel-controlled territories, activists said. U.N. observers who visited the site a day after fighting ended said they were greeted by smoldering buildings, looted shops, smashed cars and the stench of death. The U.N. said bodies appeared to have been removed or buried before the U.N. mission arrived.
— June 6, 2012: At least 78 people were shot, hacked, or burned to death in the central Syrian village of Mazraat al-Qubair. Activists said pro-government militiamen known as "shabiha" were responsible. A U.N. spokesman called it a "horrific crime."
— May 12, 2012: Activists said men in civilian clothes gunned down people in the streets and stabbed women and children in their homes after large anti-government protests in Houla, a group of villages in central Syria. The U.N. said at least 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children. Assad's regime denied its forces carried out the attack. The massacre provoked international outrage and the coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats from world capitals.
— Early April, 2012: Activists claimed at least 100 people, most of them civilians, were killed in a government offensive in the villages of Taftanaz and Killi in the northern Idlib province.
— Dec. 19, 2011: Activists said at least 72 military defectors were gunned down in Idlib province during an attempted escape. Scores more were reported killed over the following days during a hunt for mutinous soldiers.
MAJOR ATROCITIES ON THE REBEL SIDE:
— Nov. 2, 2012: A video appeared to show Syrian rebels killing a group of captured soldiers, spraying them with bullets after kicking and beating them as they lay on the ground. The killings took place during an assault by rebels on the northern town of Saraqeb, during which dozens of soldiers were killed in rebel attacks on military checkpoints in the area. Human rights groups warned that the gunmen may have committed a war crime.
— Sept. 10, 2012: A video showed what appeared to be the extrajudicial executions of 21 government soldiers in Hanano in the city of Aleppo. The dead soldiers, bloodied, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs, were seen lying dead on the pavement as a rebel says: "These are Assad's dead dogs." Human Rights Watch said it was one of more than 15 videos on YouTube that appear to show extrajudicial executions of people in the custody of armed opposition groups.
— Aug. 2, 2012: A video showed several bloodied prisoners in Aleppo being led into a noisy outdoor crowd and lined up against a wall as men carrying assault rifles shouted slogans and sprayed them with bullets. According to activists, the executed prisoners were members of the powerful Barri clan, which has long had close ties to the Syrian government. Among them was the clan's leader, Ali Zinelabedine Barri, known as Zeino.
— July 2012: Twenty-three Iraqi Shiite Muslims were killed in Syria, some of them by beheading, according to the Washington-based Shiite Rights Watch. In one gruesome case, the U.N. said an Iraqi family of seven was killed at gunpoint in their Damascus apartment.