BEIRUT - Syrian government forces killed at least 95 civilians, many in cold blood, and destroyed hundreds of houses in a two-week offensive in the northern province of Idlib during ceasefire negotiations, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
The New York-based advocacy group said war crimes were committed during the offensive against opposition strongholds in March and April as international peace envoy Kofi Annan was trying to end Syria's year-long conflict.
"In nine separate incidents documented by HRW, government forces executed 35 civilians in their custody. The majority of executions took place during the attack on Taftanaz, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants northeast of Idlib city on April 3 and 4," the group said in a report.
HRW researchers observed bullet marks on the wall that formed a row 50 to 60 cm (20 to 24 inches) above the floor, it added, roughly the height of a kneeling person.
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