A new Human Rights Watch report details massive war crimes committed by Syrian rebel factions against civilians in the nation’s northwestern Latakia Province. The incident took place in early August.
The rebels, led by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters, moved against a handful of Alawite villages in the province in early August, going house to house, massacring adult men and taking the women and children hostage.
The rebels killed at least 190 villages all told in the offensive, and took over 200 other civilians hostage, who months later are still not released. AQI and the other factions involved had bragged about the attacks regularly at the time.
The US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) appears to have been involved in the massacres as well. FSA leader Salim Idriss bragged of this involvement in a video less than a week after the killings, saying that they were taking part in the Latakia offensive “to a great extent.” The scope of the FSA’s involvement is not confirmed, however.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is a member of the Alawite religion, and Sunni Islamist rebel factions have regularly targeted Alawite civilians as presumptive “sympathizers.” Such attacks have of course rendered the Alawites less than sympathetic toward the rebels.