Rebels shown killing captured Syrian troops

Associated Press
In this picture taken on Wednesday Oct. 31, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, buildings which were destroyed from the shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad, at al-Qossour neighborhood in Homs province, central Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Lens Yong Homsi)

BEIRUT (AP) — A new video appears to show Syrian rebels killing a group of captured soldiers, drawing condemnations from human rights groups who warned on Friday that the gunmen may have committed a war crime.

An anti-regime activist organization said the killings took place near the northern town Saraqeb, which has been the scene in past weeks of heavy fighting between rebels and forces of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Human rights groups said they were trying to confirm the video's authenticity. The footage was consistent with other Associated Press reporting in the area. The video is dated Thursday, a day when the Observatory reported heavy attacks by rebels on regime checkpoints at Saraqeb.

The video shows rebels bearing and kicking a group of captured soldiers, some of the apparently wounded. The soliders are not bound or blindfolded. The rebels then shoot them to death. The exact number of soldiers in the video not clear, but appears to be around 10.

London-based Amnesty International called the video "shocking" and said it may depict a "potential war crime in progress."

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was examining the video.

"The allegations are that these were soldiers who were no longer combatants and therefore, at this point, it looks very like a war crime. Another one," the spokesman, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva. "Unfortunately this could be the latest in a string of documented summary executions by opposition factions as well as by government forces and groups affiliated with them, such as the (pro-government) shabiha" militia.

"The people committing these crimes should be under no illusion that they will escape accountability, because there is a lot of accumulated evidence, perhaps including this video," he said.

On Friday, the Observatory condemned the killing of nearly a dozen soldiers at the Hmeisho checkpoint. Amnesty released a highly critical statement.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, asked how rebels can demand rights at a time when they violate such rights.


Associated Press writer John Heilprin in Geneva contributed to this report.