HRW said villagers executed by militant groups, some linked to al Qaeda
Rebel groups overran army positions and moved into villages nearby where members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect lived, HRW claims
HRW identified five rebel groups instrumental to funding, organising, planning and carrying out the Latakia attacks
Assad's forces are also accused by rights groups of committing atrocities
By Anna Edwards
Published: 07:42 EDT, 11 October 2013 | Updated: 16:29 EDT, 11 October 2013
Syrian rebels have killed at least 190 civilians and taken 200 hostages as the country's bitter civil war rages, Human Rights Watch claimed today.
As a chemical watchdog won the Nobel Peace Prize today for overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, government forces and rebels clashed across the country with conventional weapons.
HRW said many of the dead had been executed by militant groups, some linked to al Qaeda, who overran army positions at dawn on August 4 and then moved into 10 villages nearby where members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect lived.
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The besieged area of Homs is one the many areas of Syria to be destroyed by the bitter war between government forces and rebels
Smoke rises after a mortar shell hits a residential area during fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels in Maaret al-Numan in the Idlib province
In its first government-sanctioned trip into Syria during the 2-1/2-year conflict, New York-based HRW has documented a series of sectarian mass killings by Assad's foes during a broader campaign in which Western-backed rebels took part.
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In some cases, entire families were executed or gunned down as they fled, according to a report titled 'You Can Still See Their Blood'.
HRW identified five rebel groups instrumental to funding, organising, planning and carrying out the Latakia attacks, including the al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant groups, as well as the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and another unit of foreign jihadi fighters.
These groups publicised their involvement through videos and statements, some of which were used to corroborate the HRW report. The operation appeared to have been largely financed by private Gulf-based donors, HRW said.
A man runs past barricades used as protection from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs. The HRW has documented a series of mass killings by Assad's foes during a broader campaign in which Western-backed rebels took part
An opposition fighter aims his weapon during rebels' attack over Syrian government forces. The conflict erupted in 2011 when mainly peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule were put down with force
It is unclear to what extent the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the armed wing of the main opposition coalition which is openly supported by the United States, Britain, France and Sunni Muslim Gulf states, played.
In a video posted on August 11 and apparently filmed in Latakia, FSA chief Salim Idriss said the body was participating in the offensive 'to a great extent.'
But HRW researcher Lama Fakih, who spent several days in Latakia province in September and spoke to residents, soldiers, militiamen, doctors and officials, said she could not confirm if the FSA were present on August 4 when the atrocities took place.
Assad's forces are also accused by rights groups of committing atrocities and using incendiary and cluster bombs in populated areas
Assad's forces are also accused by rights groups of committing atrocities and using incendiary and cluster bombs in populated areas.
They have carried out sectarian attacks, including killing up to 450 civilians in two massacres in mainly Sunni Muslim areas in May, according to U.N. officials.
The opposition and rights groups accuse Damascus of a chemical weapons strike in a Damascus suburb on August 21 that killed hundreds of civilians.
The government blames the attack on rebels.
Not all 20 rebel groups mentioned in the HRW report were available to comment.
Syrian National Coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh said the SNC condemns all human rights abuses and if any had been committed by rebels affiliated with the coalition, they would face justice.
A member of the Sunni Islamist Ahrar al-Sham said its fighters had killed no civilians in the offensive.
The scale and organisation of the attacks on civilians suggest premeditation and make them a crime against humanity, HRW said, rather than isolated war crimes reported during the Syrian civil war. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 100,000 people in two-and-a-half years.
Syria's mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are battling to overthrow Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam and accounts for about 12 percent of Syria's 23 million people.
The conflict erupted in 2011 when mainly peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule were put down with force.
As the war rages, the global chemical weapons watchdog charged with destroying chemical weapons stockpile won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize today.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a relatively small organisation with a modest budget, dispatched 27 of its experts after a sarin gas attack killed more than 1,400 people in August.
Their deployment, supported by the United Nations, helped avert a U.S. strike against President Bashar al-Assad.
The OPCW's mission was unprecedented in taking place during a civil war that has riven the country and killed more than 100,000 people.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2454181/Syrian-rebels-executed-190-civilians-took-200-hostages-single-military-offensive-say-Human-Rights-Watch.html