Saturday, April 13, 2013

Report: At least 4,300 civilians killed in Syrian airstrikes since last summer

BEIRUT (AP) — A U.S.-based rights group on Thursday accused Syria of committing war crimes by indiscriminate and sometimes deliberate airstrikes against civilians, killing at least 4,300 people since last summer.

Human Rights Watch said Syrian fighter jets have targeted bakeries, bread lines and hospitals in the country’s north.

The report came as government forces launched a counteroffensive in the southern province of Daraa, where rebels have been making progress for weeks in the strategic region close to Damascus.

In recent months, parts of northern Syria, especially areas along the border with Turkey, have fallen under the control of rebels, including several neighborhoods of Aleppo, the country’s largest city.

“The aim of the airstrikes appears to be to terrorize civilians from the air, particularly in the opposition-controlled areas where they would otherwise be fairly safe from any effects of fighting,” Ole Solvang of the New York-based group told The Associated Press.

These attacks are “serious violations of international humanitarian law,” and people who commit such breaches are “responsible for war crimes,” the New York-based group said.

Solvang led the HRW team that inspected 52 sites in northern Syria and documented what it said were 59 unlawful attacks by the Syrian Air Force. At least 152 people were killed in these attacks, according to a HRW report released Thursday.