Today it was reported by the New York Times that the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report stating that the Syrian opposition was committing war crimes. Specifically, the Times stated that the rebels had been accused of a “catalog of abuses including ‘kidnapping, detention and torture of security force members, government supporters and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabiha.’” When one looks at the report itself (there is also a public letter to the leaders of the Syrian opposition) , it states that HRW has also “received reports of executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians” and that “Some of the statements collected suggest that certain armed attacks by opposition groups were motivated by anti-Shia or anti-Alawite sentiments arising from the association of these communities with government policies.”
These reports only bolster the ignored Arab League Observer Mission Report which stated that an “armed entity” exists and has been “involved in the killings of civilians and police as well as the conduct of terrorist acts, which in turn have contributed to triggering actions by government forces.” In addition to this, one must note the connections between statement that some armed attacks “were motivated by anti-Shia or anti-Alawite sentiments” and the fact that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Al Qaeda who are all Sunni and aiding the fight against the Al Assad, whose government is Shia. It is also important to note that the Alawite minority practices Shia Islam. Thus, for the regional actors, this is a battle of Sunni and Shia.
Finally, it should be noted that there are many similarities between the Syrian rebels and the Libyan rebels. The Libyan rebels launched a media propaganda war against Gaddafi, must like how Al Jazeera has lied about the ongoing events in Syria. In addition to this, much like the Syrian rebels, the Libyan rebels also committed war crimes.
While there are those who may be pushing for intervention into Syria, they may want to rethink it the situation in light of this new information. The situation may end up much worse as the Libyan rebels were linked to Al Qaeda and the NTC is now going to enact Sharia law. We should not want the same fate for the people of Syria.
Devon DB is a 20 year old independent writer and researcher. He is currently majoring in political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.