Some Syrian rebel fighters are committing human rights abuses as they battle the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although these incidents pale in comparison to the government’s campaign of violence, a senior human rights investigator said on Friday.
Donatella Rovera, an investigator with the rights group Amnesty International who recently spent several weeks in Syria, said it was clear that some opposition supporters had resorted to brutal tactics as they targeted members of the security forces.
The strength of the armed opposition is growing, she said earlier in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and as clashes intensify, individual members are lashing out and committing human rights abuses by beating, detaining and killing al-Assad’s soldiers.
Rovera said that the government was largely to blame for the escalating violence in Syria, saying al-Assad’s forces had targeted whole villages in their attempt to suppress the spreading rebellion.
In the latest reported massacre, the opposition said, government forces attacked the village of Tremseh in the Hama region with helicopters, artillery and tanks on Thursday.
Opposition sources put the death toll at anywhere from 100 to more than 200, although no independent account of the attack has surfaced.
Rovera said Amnesty International’s reports out of Syria indicated that pro-Assad fighters had in some instances burned up to half of the homes and most clinics in towns to root out rebels and are increasingly targeting unarmed civilians, including medical teams treating wounded rebels that have been barred from hospitals.
The UN Security Council is expected to vote next week on extending the mandate of UN observers in Syria, whose original mission was to monitor a ceasefire that never took hold.
Rovera said it was important that the observers be allowed to stay on to help collect information on rights violations.