HRW: War Crimes in Idlib
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report titled “They Burned My Heart’: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Negotiations,” documenting Syrian security forces perpetuating “extrajudicial executions, killings of civilians, and destruction of civilian property that qualify as war crimes, as well as arbitrary detention and torture.”
“While diplomats argued over details of Kofi Annan’s peace plan, Syrian tanks and helicopters attacked one town in Idlib after another,” said Anna Neistat, associate director for program and emergencies at Human Rights Watch. As violence continued, and the intensity of the conflict increase, HRW believes the fighting in Idlib reached the level of armed conflict under international law that mandates the law of armed conflict applied, and the serious violations of international humanitarian law perpetuated by President Bashar al-Assad‘s forces are classified as war crimes. In one instance, HRW documented nine separate cases where government forces executed 35 civilians in their custody – the majority of the executions occurring during the attack of the town Taftanaz. Meanwhile, on Monday, Syria’s state-run news agency reported two explosions targeted military buildings, resulting in 8 deaths.
Writing for the Washington Post, Richard Cohen asks how much longer Syrians must be killed before Annan’s peace plan is deemed a failure, and military action is taken against Assad to stop the violence. “Sometimes it [U.N. peace plan] works, sometimes it doesn’t, but there is a protocol to these things that has to be honored. Yet as each ticket is punched, more people die,” said Cohen.
Jamie Fly and Robert Zarate write, “If the United States still can’t bring itself to stop the mortally wounded Assad regime (which lacks nuclear weapons) from murdering its own people and destabilizing its neighbors, then how likely is it to deal with much harder cases in the Middle East—like a nuclear-armed Iran that starts inflicting Syria-like mass atrocities on its own people or menacing its own neighbors?”