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Syrian Rebels Have Tortured Detainees, Human Rights Watch Says

Syrian rebels have tortured detainees and committed extra-judicial or summary executions in Aleppo, Latakia and Idlib that may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

Opposition forces have executed more than a dozen people, including four after a rebel battalion stormed a police station in Haffa in June, the New York-based group said in an e-mailed statement today. Six of 12 detainees held in two opposition detention facilities said they were tortured, in particularly by prolonged beating of the soles of their feet, the group said.

Syrian rebels have been fighting to topple the government of President Bashar Al-Assad for 18 months, in a conflict that has killed more than 26,000 people, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Government forces and opposition fighters are resorting to increasingly violent tactics to tip the balance of power in their favor.

“Declarations by opposition groups that they want to respect human rights are important, but the real test is how opposition forces behave,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Time and again Syria’s opposition has told us that it is fighting against the government because of its abhorrent human rights violations. Now is the time for the opposition to show that they really mean what they say.”

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