Rights Group Says 147 Men Found Dead in Syrian River

The bodies of 147 people found floating in Aleppo’s river were probably killed in Syrian government-controlled areas, Human Rights Watch said in a report today.

“The bodies floating down Aleppo’s river tell a grisly tale,” Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at the New York-based rights group, said. “It’s hard to see how 147 people could have been executed and their bodies flung in the river in government-controlled territory, as the evidence indicates, without the knowledge of government forces operating in the area.”

The human rights group said it counted the corpses of 147 males from boys as young as 11 to men of about 64 who were found in the river between the end of January and March 14. Parts of Aleppo, the nation’s commercial capital, and the broader governorate of the same name fell into rebel hands last year.

This isn’t the first time bodies were found in the river. At least 65 men where found on its banks with bullet wounds to the head, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in January. Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said 80 bodies were recovered from the scene.

Aleppo is set to become a battleground as more 4,000 Hezbollah militiamen gather outside the city, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported, citing Free Syrian Army Spokesman Louay Miqdad. Hezbollah, a Shiite group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., fights with Syrian forces loyal to Assad, whose Alawite sect is a Shiite offshoot. Many of Syria’s rebels are Sunni Muslims.

At least 80,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in 2011, Vuk Jeremic, president of the United Nations General Assembly, said in May. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on May 22 said “upwards of 100,000 people” may have died.

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