Anti-Assad Committed Atrocities
by Stephen Lendman
They repeat with disturbing regularity. Most often Assad's wrongfully blamed. Not this time.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) noticed. Usually it points fingers the wrong way. Rare exceptions prove the rule.
On October 11, it headlined "Executions, Unlawful Killings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside." More on HRW's report below.
Washington bears full responsibility. Syria is Obama's war. Cutthroat killers comprise his proxy army. Complicit allies supply their own brigades.
They imported from dozens of countries. There's nothing civil about Syria's war. Assad's battling foreign invaders. He's acting responsibly doing so.
He's doing what any leader would do. Nothing less would be unacceptable. Syrians depend on his protection. Without it, things would be far worse.
On October 11, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined "Al-Jaafari: Regional, Western support to terrorists flagrant violation of international law."
According to UN envoy al-Jaafari:
"Syria didn't touch till now anything which shows the UN's seriousness or efficiency in guaranteeing the superiority of the international law and putting an end to the illegitimate acts and terrorism."
Damascus "sent hundreds of letters to UN bodies." Doing so explained how ordinary Syrians suffer. World body officials able to act responsibly haven't done so.
They largely ignore what demands firm action to denounce. They point fingers the wrong way instead.
They disgrace themselves in the process. They show which side they're on. They violate core UN Charter provisions. They do so repeatedly. Perhaps they don't think they matter.
"The crisis in Syria represents a clear evidence on the flagrant interfering polices in the domestic affairs of the states which pose a threat to Syria stability and its territorial integrity through the support and the financing of governments of Arab, regional and western states to foreign terrorist, extremist members and sending them to Syria to ruin and destroy the country," al-Jaafari added.
Syria "always affirmed national comprehensive dialogue." It's "the only way to overcome the crisis."
Peaceful conflict resolution alone works. Syria "repeatedly called on the states which support the terrorist groups to stop this support immediately."
It's fully committed to negotiate peace with no preconditions. It repeated its pledge numerous times.
Fourteen-year-old Omran Adnan Qaddour is a self-confessed terrorist. He admitted involvement with armed gangs.
They committed acts of killing, looting and kidnapping. He planted explosives and smuggled weapons. Other armed fighters trained him.
His terrorist group kidnapped an al-Qussour neighborhood man. They did so for money. They tortured him. They committed other atrocities. So do likeminded criminal gangs.
HRW's report explained more. It discusses anti-Assad insurgents killing "at least 190 civilians and seiz(ing) over 200 hostages during a military offensive in rural Latakia governorate..."
On August 4, it began. Mass slaughter followed. Entire families were murdered in cold blood. Two anti-Assad groups were responsible - the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar.
Findings, said HRW, "strongly suggest that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity."
According to HRW's Middle East director Joe Stork:
"These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters. This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages."
The Security Council should "immediately" refer those responsible to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
HRW interviewed more than 35 people. They included survivors, emergency response staff, as well as fighters and activists on both sides.
At least "20 distinct armed opposition groups participated in" slaughtering civilians and taking others hostage.
They alternately called their action the "campaign of the descendants of Aisha," the "mother of believers," the "Barouda offensive," or the "operation to liberate the coast."
Fighting lasted 15 days. On August 18, it ended. It's unclear whether all groups participated initially. Most atrocities occurred during early days of fighting.
Five groups were clearly involved from the outset. They included Ahrar al-Sham, Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, and Suquor al-Izz.
HRW confirmed war crimes they committed, saying:
"The high civilian death toll, the nature of the recorded wounds - for example, multiple gunshot or stabbing wounds - and the presence of 43 women, children, and elderly among the dead together indicate that opposition forces either intentionally or indiscriminately killed" at least most victims.
"The scale and pattern of the serious abuses carried out by opposition groups during the operation indicate that they were systematic and planned as part of an attack on a civilian population."
"The evidence strongly suggests that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses committed by opposition forces on and after August 4 rise to the level of crimes against humanity."
Insurgent commanders in charge bear most responsibility. They're criminally liable for crimes too grave to ignore. So are fighters for obeying lawless orders.
On August 4, they began attacking pre-dawn. They did so on Eid al-Fitr's first day. It marked the end of Ramadan.
Insurgents overran army positions. They entered 10 Alawite villages. Residents said they awoke to sounds of gun and mortar fire. They frantically tried to flee.
Insurgents targeted civilians indiscriminately. They shot them in cold blood. Entire families were slaughtered.
One survivor explained having to leave his elderly father and blind aunt behind. They infirmities prevented them from fleeing. He explained what happened, saying:
"My mom was here in the house with me. She came out of the house first, and I was behind her."
"We saw the three fighters just in front of us, and then we fled on foot down behind the house and into the valley."
"The three fighters that I saw were all dressed in black. They were shooting at us from two different directions."
"They had machine guns and were using snipers. My older brother came down and hid with us as well."
"We hid, but my dad stayed in the house. He was killed in his bed. My aunt, she is an 80-year-old blind woman, was also killed in her room. Her name is Nassiba."
Other survivors said they witnessed indiscriminate executions.
Latakia's National Hospital received 205 corpses.
Its report said the "cause of death in several (bodies) was multiple gunshot wounds all over the bodies, in addition to stab wounds made with a sharp instrument, given the decapitation observed in most bodies."
"Some corpses were found in a state of complete charring, and others had their feet tiedâ€¦"
Insurgents said they held over 200 civilians hostage. Most are women and children. One survivor said 23 of her relatives were missing.
On August 5, Syrian forces counterattacked. On August 18, they regained full control. Affected communities won't ever be the same.
Throughout months of fighting, Assad loyalists suffered horrifically. They've been terrorized, tortured, brutalized, dismembered, and murdered. World leaders turn a blind eye.
Assad is wrongfully blamed for defending his people responsibly. He's their last line of defense. Without him, cutthroat killers would be unrestrained.
Syrians deplore violence. They want peace. They haven't had it for over two and a half years.
A previous article discussed Der Spiegel headlining "The Burial Brigade of Homs: An Executioner for Syria's Rebels Tells His Story."
He said he and comrades "kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture (to) the so-called interrogation brigade...."
"They do the ugly work." He believes in violence, he explained. He "cut the throats of four men." He machine-gunned many more.
Homs fighters commit "regular executions." It continues daily in cold blood throughout the country.
Assad loyalists are targeted, brutalized and murdered. Women and children aren't spared.
In March 2012, Human Rights Watch reported on Syrian "Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses."
An "Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition" accused them of targeted killings, summary executions, kidnappings for ransom, torture, hostage taking, and other violent crimes.
In August 2012, McClatchy Newspapers headlined "Accounts of Syria rebels executing prisoners raise new human rights concerns," saying:
"Syrian insurgents fighting to unseat President Bashar Assad face a growing list of accusations that they’ve carried out executions and torture, muddying the Western narrative of a heroic resistance force struggling against a vicious regime."
Videos showed their dirty work. They circulated widely online. They showed pro-Assad elements murdered in Aleppo. They were executed in cold blood.
Incidents aren't isolated. They're systematically planned. They repeat with disturbing regularity. They target Assad loyalist civilians.
Thousands of vulnerable men, women and children died. Countless others were injured and/or displaced.
Syria remains a cauldron of violence. Conflict shows no signs of ending. Obama bears full responsibility.
His depravity is real. His war on humanity continues.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.