Syria Using Militias for Mass Killings: UN

As more than 2.5M displaced by civil war

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 2:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – The latest travesty the Syrian government has been accused of: using local militias to carry out mass killings. UN human rights investigators say these "Popular Committees" commit killings that sometimes have "sectarian overtones," Reuters reports. (The rebels in Syria are mainly Sunni Muslims, while President Bashar al-Assad has ties to Shi'ite Islam.) In its new report, the UN commission of inquiry on Syria calls the trend "disturbing and dangerous," noting that some of the militias "appear to have been trained and armed by the government."

The report accuses the Popular Committees of engaging in "house-to-house searches, identity checks, mass arrests, looting, and acting as informants," as well as harassing or arresting people from regions seen as supporting the opposition. It comes amid more violence in Syria: Government warplanes today bombed Homs, after rebels pushed into the Baba Amr district, Reuters reports. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced due to the civil war, according to Bloomberg, and the UN report finds that there are few areas inside Syria unaffected by the conflict.

In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria.
In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
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