Amnesty: Syr­ian regime guilty of ‘crimes against hu­man­ity’

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LON­DON: The Syr­ian regime’s sieges of its pop­u­la­tion ahead of reach­ing “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” agree­ments with the op­po­si­tion amount to crimes and against hu­man­ity and war crimes, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said on Mon­day.

In a re­port ti­tled “We leave or we die,” Amnesty an­a­lyzed four lo­cal ac­cords which the rights body said were pre­ceded by un­law­ful sieges and bom­bard­ment aimed at forc­ing civil­ians to leave their homes.

“The sieges, un­law­ful killings and forced dis­place­ment by gov­ern­ment forces are part of a sys­tem­atic as well as wide­spread at­tack on the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, there­fore con­sti­tut­ing crimes against hu­man­ity,” the re­port said.

Bro­kered be­tween Au­gust 2016 and March 2017, the agree­ments came af­ter pro­longed sieges dur­ing which both the Syr­ian regime and op­po­si­tion forces in­dis­crim­i­nately at­tacked civil­ians.

“The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and, to a lesser de­gree, armed op­po­si­tion groups have en­forced sieges on densely pop­u­lated ar­eas, de­priv­ing civil­ians of food, medicine and other ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law,” Amnesty said.

Such ac­tions by the Syr­ian regime in Daraya, Ma­daya, eastern Aleppo city, and the Al-Waer neigh­bor­hood in Homs city amounted to war crimes.

In eastern Aleppo city, Amnesty doc­u­mented 10 at­tacks be­tween July and De­cem­ber, 2016, dur­ing which the regime al­legedly tar­geted neigh­bor­hoods “far away from the front lines and with no ap­par­ent mil­i­tary ob­jec­tives in the vicin­ity.”

The hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tion said it con­ducted the re­search us­ing videos and satel­lite im­agery along­side in­ter­views with 134 peo­ple, in­clud­ing res­i­dents and UN of­fi­cials, be­tween April and Septem­ber this year.

Amnesty ap­pealed to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to refer the sit­u­a­tion in Syria to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court and de­mand un­hin­dered ac­cess to the coun­try for those in­ves­ti­gat­ing rights abuses.

Sep­a­rately, Daesh ter­ror­ists re­gained con­trol of Albu Ka­mal, their last strong­hold in Syria, af­ter Ira­nian-backed forces who claimed to have cap­tured the city a few days ear­lier were am­bushed and forced to re­treat, tribal lead­ers, res­i­dents and a war mon­i­tor said on Mon­day.

Fighters from Le­banese Hezbol­lah in Syria who joined forces with Pop­u­lar Re­sis­tance Units from Iraq cross­ing the bor­der into Syria were taken by sur­prise by mil­i­tants hid­ing in­side tun­nels in the heart of the city they said they had taken on Wed­nes­day, they said.

Peo­ple gather around a lev­eled build­ing in the town of Dar­bandikhan in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan on Mon­day fol­low­ing a 7.3-mag­ni­tude quake that hit the Iraq-Iran bor­der area on Sun­day. (AFP)

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