World Bulletin/News Desk
Some Syrian rebel fighters are committing human rights abuses as they battle the forces of 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 target members of the security forces.
"They capture people, we've seen evidence of them having beaten them up ... and in some cases they have killed them," Rovera told Reuters.
"Can it get much worse? It certainly can."
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 Assad's soldiers.
Amnesty International is tracking these abuses in part by the YouTube videos members of the Free Syrian Army post online when they interview detainees.
Rovera stressed that the government was largely to blame for the escalating violence in Syria, saying Assad's forces have 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 rebellious 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.
Syrian state television blamed the deaths on "armed terrorist groups." Damascus has repeatedly said that it faces a foreign-backed insurgency waged by disparate groups including forces aligned with al Qaeda.
Targeting medical teams
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.
She said three medical aides were found dead in the city of Aleppo.
"The three were arrested and after a week, their bodies were found with clear marks of torture. Their nails had been pulled off, their teeth missing ... and their bodies had been set on fire," Rovera said.
"It was to give a clear message that it is not a good idea to engage in these types of humanitarian tasks."
The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote next week on extending the mandate of U.N. 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.
"The time for impunity is over," she said.
Violence in Syria has been escalating since protests erupted in March 2011. The unrest has killed more than 17,000 rebels, civilians and government forces, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Russian and Assad regime air strikes have killed dozens of people in eastern Syria
The leader of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah says the group will continue fighting against terrorists in Syria's northern province of Aleppo and that the party will send more troops to Syria's Aleppo
Both Iran and Russia have expressed their elation over the shock exit of the UK with Moscow mayor declaring, "‘There won’t be anyone to so zealously defend sanctions against us"
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was implicated in mass protests against the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009
Clashes in several areas across Yemen on Friday killed 22 Shiite rebels and 11 members of pro-government forces, military officials said, after ...
Syrian opposition group claims 12 civilians killed when Russian jets dropped incendiary bombs in Aleppo
The ship, named Gamal Abdel Nasser, left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast on June 12.
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura hopes peace talks can resume in July, but has warned they cannot proceed “while hostilities are escalating and civilians are starving”.
Both men were simultaneously visiting the European Union’s main governmental headquarters to talk with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Turkey and U.S.-led coalition strike 34 ISIL targets in northern Syria, military says
Group will secure city, maintain safety of civilians, Central Command says
Agreement to be finalized Sunday; Israel security cabinet to approve deal next week, Israeli dailies report
“We offer our thanks to Turkey and its authority for its insistence that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza Strip,” Hamas political leader says
Turkish military also hits PKK extremists positions in northern Iraq
Striking Assad ‘stops short of a war against a sovereign nation that is being backed by Russia and Iran,' White House says
Israel deliberately denies Palestinians control over their water sources and sets the ground for water domination.