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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2013-08-03 18:41:40
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UNHR Chief urges probe into alleged execution of Government soldiers



Syria, 3 August 2013: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged an independent investigation into whether war crimes had been committed when armed opposition groups in Syria allegedly executed dozens of captured Government soldiers in the northern province of Aleppo last month.

“Based on the analysis by my team to date, we believe armed opposition groups in one incident - documented by a video - executed at least 30 individuals, the majority of whom appeared to be soldiers,” the High Commissioner said in a statement issued by her office.

Ms. Pillay said allegations of the killings after a battle in Khan Al-Assal, a district in rural Aleppo, are “deeply shocking” and reiterated the need to ensure that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law on all sides of the conflict are made accountable.

Opposition forces in Khan Al-Assal purportedly filmed and posted on the internet between 22 and 26 July a series of videos, one apparently showing Government soldiers being ordered to lie on the ground. Another shows several bodies scattered along a wall and a number of bodies at an adjacent site, according to the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR).

“These images, if verified, suggest that executions were committed in Khan Al-Assal,” Ms. Pillay said. “There needs to be a thorough independent investigation to establish whether war crimes have been committed. And those responsible for such crimes should be brought to justice.”

Another video shows bodies being collected by members of the Red Crescent and Free Syrian Army medical doctors, according to the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR).

Meanwhile, OHCHR has received information from a reliable source that opposition fighters still hold government officers and soldiers captured in Khan Al-Assal.

“The High Commissioner reminds the parties to the conflict that all persons no longer taking part in hostilities, including captured and wounded soldiers, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and in accordance with international law,” OHCHR said in today’s statement.

The UN human rights office said it continues to investigate the circumstances and scope of the killings – including reports that the overall number of dead is much higher. According to OHCHR, UN investigators are being allowed to visit Khan Al-Assal as part of a separate probe into three sites in the country to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use.

The events in Khan Al-Assal are further evidence that flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all parties have tragically become the norm in the Syrian conflict, stressed Ms. Pillay. Source: UN




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