The Assad regime forces reportedly retaliated against civilians who chose to remain behind in areas retaken in Idlib province, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Images provided to the watchdog group show that regime forces may have shot at civilians and despoiled their bodies in towns where the Assad regime retook control in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.
HRW said it had obtained images that appeared to show members of the 25th Special Forces Division, a Russian-backed elite regime force formerly known as the Tiger Forces, standing atop the body of a man they appear to have killed after taking control of Maaret al-Nu’man town.
“Syrian-Russian forces have indiscriminately bombed areas to force civilians to flee en masse, and now appear to be are terrorizing civilians who remain behind,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, “The abusive troops, and the commanders who fail to stop them, should be held accountable.”
“Syrian government forces have abused civilians for a long time and have never been held responsible,” Page said. “But these soldiers should take heed that as history shows, those who violate international law will be brought to justice when they least expect it.”
HRW had previously documented indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure, and the use of unlawful weapons, including cluster munitions, incendiary weapons, and improvised explosives in the course of the regime’s offensive in northwestern Syria.
“The Syrian government and Russia should immediately suspend members of government forces against whom there are credible allegations of human rights abuse. Military commanders and intelligence officials should be placed under targeted sanctions until they stop abuses committed by their forces,” HRW added. (SOC’s Media Department)