, BEIRUT, Mar 15 – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are using “scorched earth methods” in cities across the country to crush a one-year-old revolt against his regime, Human Rights Watch charged on Thursday.
“City after city, town after town, Syria’s security forces are using their scorched earth methods while the (UN) Security Council’s hands remain tied by Russia and China,” said HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson.
“One year on, the Security Council should finally stand together and send a clear message to Assad that these attacks should end,” said the New York-based group’s Middle East director.
Moscow and Beijing have since October blocked two Security Council draft resolutions on the crisis in Syria on the grounds that they were unbalanced and aimed at regime change.
HRW said in a statement that “accounts from witnesses reveal significant destruction and a large number of deaths and injuries of civilians in Syria’s bombardment of the city of Idlib.”
Syrian activists have compiled a list of 114 civilians killed since security forces launched an assault on the city in northwest Syria on March 10, it said.
HRW said government forces had “used large-caliber machine-guns, tanks, and mortars to fire indiscriminately at buildings and people in the street” to capture the city which had been in rebel hands for months.
Idlib fell to government forces on Tuesday night, two weeks after the regime stormed the Baba Amr district of Homs city, in central Syria, following a month-long blitz that activists said left hundreds dead.
“After they entered Idlib, government forces detained people in house-to-house searches, looted buildings, and burned down houses,” HRW said, citing witnesses.
The rights group urged alleged atrocities in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court “as the forum most capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting those bearing the greatest responsibility.”