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Human Rights Watch says Syrian rebels responsible for war crimes

October 15, 2013, 18:05 UTC+3

Russia's Foreign Ministry: HRW has collected evidence indicating at least 20 rebel groups participated in the Latakia offensive

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MOSCOW, October 15 (Itar-Tass) - The international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has collected evidence indicating at least 20 rebel groups participated in the Latakia offensive from August 4 to 18, the Russian Foreign Ministry's information and press department said in a commentary on Tuesday.

The commentary says the five groups were "the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors of the attacks.” They are the allegedly secular group Ahrar al-Sham and Islamic organisations the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar and Suquor al-Izz.

“We hope that the voice of such a renowned human rights organisation will be heard by the international community and, first of all, by the countries, which are mentioned in the report as sponsors of the groups involved in systematic and atrocious crimes against humanity in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“In its report Human Rights Watch calls on the governments of all countries who have any influence on the armed opposition groups in Syria to make them stop deliberate, indiscriminate and inadequate attacks on civilians,” the ministry said. “We should put an end to every support for Islamist organisations, because everyone providing them with weapons and rendering military assistance participates in war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Human Rights Watch report documents the Aug. 4 attacks on unarmed civilians in more than a dozen villages in the coastal province of Latakia in northern Syria. Witnesses said rebels went house to house, in some cases executing entire families and in other cases killing men and taking women and children hostage. The villagers belong to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam which forms the backbone of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Opposition fighters killed at least 190 civilians and seized more than 200 others - mostly women and children - who are still being held hostage by two opposition groups that led the offensive.

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