Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Amnesty: Abductions, torture and killings around Aleppo and Idlib

Armed groups operating in Aleppo, Idlib and surrounding areas in the north of Syria have carried out a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
The briefing Torture was my punishment’: Abductions, torture and summary killings under armed group rule in Aleppo and Idleb, Syria offers a rare glimpse of what life is really like in areas under the control of armed opposition groups. Some of them are believed to have the support of governments such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA despite evidence that they are committing violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war). It also sheds light on the administrative and quasi-judicial institutions set up by armed groups to govern in these areas.
“This briefing exposes the distressing reality for civilians living under the control of some of the armed opposition groups in Aleppo, Idlib and surrounding areas. Many civilians live in constant fear of being abducted if they criticize the conduct of armed groups in power or fail to abide by the strict rules that some have imposed,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“In Aleppo and Idlib today, armed groups have free rein to commit war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with impunity. Shockingly, we have also documented armed groups using the same methods of torture that are routinely used by the Syrian government.The briefing features abuses committed by five armed groups which have exercised control over parts of the governorates of Aleppo and Idleb since 2012. They include the Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement, al-Shamia Front and Division 16, which joined the Aleppo Conquest coalition of armed groups (also known as Fatah Halab) in 2015. They also include Jabhat al-Nusra and the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement in Idleb, which both joined the Army of Conquest coalition, similarly in 2015.
 The briefing contains reports about torture but also evidence of summary killings carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Shamia Front and their affiliated “courts”, or the Supreme Judicial Council, a body in Aleppo governorate recognized by several armed groups as the sole judicial authority there.
Among those killed have been civilians, including a 17-year-old boy accused of being gay and a woman accused of adultery, as well as captured members of Syrian government forces, of pro-government shabiha militias, and of the armed group calling itself Islamic State and other rival groups. In some cases armed groups carried out summary killings in front of crowds. The deliberate killing of people held in captivity is prohibited by international humanitarian law and amounts to a war crime.

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