Amnesty Says Syrian Rebels ‘May Have’ Committed War Crimes In Aleppo

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Amnesty International have said that Syrian rebels may have committed war crimes in a Kurdish-controlled area of Aleppo, killing dozens of innocent civilians.

They say they collected evidence which suggest that at least 83 civilians, including 30 children, were killed between February and April by indiscriminate shellfire on the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood in Syria’s former commercial hub.

Russia Today reports:

“Armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud district…have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques, killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life,” Amnesty said in a Friday statement.

The organization’s deputy Middle East director, Magdalena Mughrabi, said the attacks “may amount to war crimes,” Reuters reported.

“By firing imprecise explosive weapons into civilian neighborhoods the armed groups attacking Sheikh Maqsoud are flagrantly flouting the principle of distinction between civilian and military targets, a cardinal rule of international humanitarian law,” Mughrabi said.

The violence is part of intense fighting in the region between the Kurdish YPG militia – which is backed by the US in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – and rebel groups, some of which are backed by foreign countries via Turkey.

The YPG and its allies have been battling insurgents, including some Islamist groups, in the northern Aleppo province for several months. Shellings of Sheikh Maqsoud, which has a large Kurdish population, have intensified since February.

Both sides have accused the other of killing civilians.

Rebels claim the YPG wants to take control of a road which provides access from Turkey to Aleppo’s rebel-held areas. They also say the YPG is working in cahoots with the Syrian government – a claim which the YPG denies.

The YPG currently holds and uninterrupted 400km (250 mile) stretch of territory along the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey, which is fighting Kurdish militants in a controversial operation in the country’s southeast, views any YPG expansion with concern.

Niamh Harris
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