Syria: jihadist factions accused in war crimes

Armed groups in Aleppo, Idlib and surrounding areas in Syria's north have carried out a "chilling wave" of abductions, torture and summary killings, Amnesty International charges in a new briefing. The briefing, "Torture was my punishment," charges that some of the named rebel groups are believed to have the support of governments such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US "despite evidence that they are committing violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war)." Groups including Nusra Front, al-Shamia Front and Ahrar al-Sham have established their own shari'a  "justice systems" in areas they control, with their own "unofficial" prosecution offices, police forces and detention centers, imposing punishments amounting to torture for perceived infractions. (AI, July 5)

Nusra is now seeking to purge northern Syria of more secular rebel groups. Jaish al-Tahrir (Liberation Army) accused the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra of storming their headquarters and abducting their commander and other fighters. The Jaish al-Tahrir statement said that its commander, Mohammad al-Ghabi, was seized from his home in the town of Kafranbel, Idlib governorate. The jihadists also took some 40 Jaish al-Tahrir fighters captive, and stole weapons. "We call on Al-Nusra Front to immediately release our commander and all the others who were kidnapped," the statement said. (ARA News, July 4)