Amnesty International says Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and other rebel groups in northern Syria have committed war crimes. (Our good buddies!)
Armed groups in rebel-held northern Syria including the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham have committed war crimes and imposed a strict version of Islamic law that in some cases of punishment amounts to torture, Amnesty International said in a report released on Tuesday.
The UK-based human rights group also named three other opposition factions – Nureddin Zinki, the Levant Front and Division 16 – in the report and said that five groups had carried out “a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings” in the northern Aleppo and Idlib provinces and surrounding areas.
The groups have detained and tortured lawyers, journalists, and children – among others – for criticising them, committing acts seen as immoral, or being minorities, the report said.
“Many civilians live in constant fear of being abducted if they criticise the conduct of armed groups in power or fail to abide by the strict rules that some have imposed,” said Philip Luther, head of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme.
“In Aleppo and Idlib today, armed groups have free rein to commit war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with impunity,” he added.
Amnesty said that some of the groups named were believed to have been supported by governments such as Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US, and called on regional powers to stop supplying them with arms.
“States that are members of the International Syria Support Group including the USA, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which are involved in negotiations over Syria, must press armed groups to end such abuses and comply with the laws of war. They must also cease any transfer of arms or other support to groups implicated in committing war crimes and other gross violations,” said Luther.