UN says Syrian killings video ‘very likely’ constitutes a war crime
A video footage that appears to show Syrian rebels cold-bloodedly executing pro-Assad soldiers who had surrendered “very likely” constitutes a war crime and should be prosecuted, said the United Nations Human Rights Office on Friday.
According to the world rights body, the video apparently indicates a war crime and threatened that "accountability will follow" for all those who commit such a carnage. Rupert Colville, a UN rights spokesman, opined that the disturbing incident appears to be the latest atrocity to be committed by rebel Syrian fighters seeking ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking at a news briefing in Geneva, Colville said that it might be not be easy to identify the culprits and the place where the video was recorded. "It will be examined carefully … But the allegations are that these were soldiers who were no longer combatants. And therefore, at this point it looks very likely that this is a war crime, another one," said Colville.
The shocking footage appears to show around 10 soldiers being beaten by opposition fighters, then lined up on the ground and shot dead with automatic rifles. The video posted on YouTube on Friday has been widely circulated around the world. It has dented the rebels’ image further, leaving even their supporters in the Western world red-faced.
It all happened on Thursday, when anti-government rebels killed 28 soldiers in attacks on three army checkpoints near the northwestern town of Saraqeb, a town located on Syria’s main north-south highway, said a monitoring group.
What is despicable from the yet to be authenticated video footage is that the soldiers were shot dead after they had already surrendered. Rebels were heard cursing at them and calling them "Assad’s Dogs" before firing round after round into their limp bodies as they lay cowering on the ground.
Meanwhile, the UN spokesman Colville said: "Unfortunately, this could be just the latest in a string of documented summary executions by opposition factions as well as by government forces and groups affiliated with them, such as the shabbiha (pro-government militia)."
Colville also told Reuters that reports of the excesses and atrocities by rebel forces were few and far between in 2011. However, towards the end of last year and more so during this year, “We’ve seen events like this happen."
The United Nations, meanwhile, has launched an investigation led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro. His team has collected evidence and testimony on the atrocities committed by both government soldiers and armed rebels in the 19-month-old bloody civil war.
Carla del Ponte, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, has joined the inquiry. He has sworn last month to bring to justice even high level Syrian political or army figures those who may have ordered or committed war crimes.
Meanwhile, Colville said on Friday, "There should be really no illusions that accountability will follow. There is a lot of evidence for many of these crimes that have been taking place." He went on to say that if and when the video is verified and the details become lot clearer, it could be used as evidence.
Read the full article at: allvoices.com
LINK TO VIDEO
CAUTION This video contains GRAPHIC content. This video surfaced and was provided by the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, claiming it is authentic raw footage Syrian rebels gathering, and executing regular Syrian army soldiers.