New Evidence That at Least 248 Executed in Coastal Towns
The 68-page report, “‘No One’s Left’: Summary Executions by Syrian Forces in al-Bayda and Baniyas,”is based oninterviews with 15 al-Bayda residents and 5 from Baniyas, including witnesses who saw or heard government and pro-government forces detain and then execute their relatives.Working with survivors and local activists, Human Rights Watch compiled a list of 167 people killed in al-Bayda and 81 in Baniyas. Based on witness accounts and video evidence, Human Rights Watch determined that the overwhelming majority were executed after military clashes ended and opposition fighters had retreated. The actual number of fatalities is probably higher, particularly in Baniyas, given how difficult it is to access the area to account for the dead.
“While the world’s attention is on ensuring that Syria’s government can no longer use chemical weapons against its population, we shouldn’t forget that Syrian government forces have used conventional means to slaughter civilians,” saidJoe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Survivors told us devastating stories of how their unarmed relatives were mowed down in front of them by government and pro-government forces.”
The Syrian government acknowledged its military operations in al-Bayda and Baniyas but said that its forces had killed only “terrorists.” Ali Haidar, minister of state for national reconciliation affairs, told the Wall Street Journal that “mistakes” may have been committed in the operations and that a government committee was investigating. But he also said that the government was forced to act to deny rebels a foothold in a part of Syria that many considered the heartland of the Alawites.