HRW: Armed Syrian opposition torture, execute prisoners

March 20, 2012 12:06

BEIRUT - Armed opposition groups in Syria have kidnapped, tortured and executed members of the security forces and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

The rights group condemned the tactics by opposition fighters, who have long accused government troops and loyalists of carrying out similar abuses.

"The Syrian government's brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in an open letter to dissident groups including the official opposition body the Syrian National Council (SNC).

"Opposition leaders should make it clear to their followers that they must not torture, kidnap or execute under any circumstances," she added.

Syria's armed opposition is highly fragmented and many militias do not appear to belong to an organized command structure or to be following SNC orders.

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