The main opposition Syrian National Council on Friday urged rebels be held accountable after a video purported to show opposition fighters executing Syrian soldiers.
“We urge the (rebel) Free Syrian Army and the revolutionary movement on the ground to hold to account anyone who violates human rights,” SNC human rights committee head Radif Mustafa told AFP by telephone.
The SNC’s call came after a video posted on YouTube appeared to show about 10 soldiers being beaten, then lined up on the ground and executed with automatic rifles, after Thursday’s rebel attacks on checkpoints in the northwestern town of Saraqeb.
“Though the rebel armed groups’ violations are not as serious or numerous as those committed by the regime (of President Bashar al-Assad), we cannot be silent over such violations because that would only help them to increase,” Mustafa said.
“The FSA and other armed groups need to respect human rights.”
Mustafa described the situation on the ground in Syria as “very complex. There are individual cases of revenge.
“Such violations are very dangerous. Any violation damages the revolution’s principles of freedom, dignity and respect for human rights.”
The video released on YouTube appearing to show Syrian rebels killing a group of captured soldiers, drew condemnations from human rights groups who warned on Friday that the gunmen may have committed a war crime.
The footage was consistent with other Associated Press news agency reporting in the area. The video is dated Thursday, a day when the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy attacks by rebels on regime checkpoints at Saraqeb. The groups said they were trying to confirm the video's authenticity.
"Like other videos of this sort, it's difficult to verify immediately in terms of location, who's involved. We need to examine this carefully. It will be examined carefully," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.
"The allegations are that these were soldiers who were no longer combatants. And therefore, at this point it looks very likely that this is a war crime, another one," he said.
The video shows rebels bearing and kicking a group of captured soldiers calling them “Assad’s Dogs,” some of the apparently wounded. The rebels then shot them to death as they were not bound nor blindfolded. The exact number of soldiers in the video is not clear, but an estimation of 10 soldiers was provided.
On Friday, Al Arabiya reported 70 people had been killed by Syrian air force shelling over the city of Idlib, citing the Syrian Revolutionary Council.
Activists at the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said that 170 people were killed across Syria by security force gunfire, mostly in Idlib, Al Arabiya reported.
On Thursday, anti-government rebels killed 28 soldiers in attacks on three army checkpoints around Saraqeb, a town on Syria's main north-south highway and one that witnessed the heaviest clashes in the past few weeks, a monitoring group said.
"Unfortunately, this could be just the latest in a string of documented summary executions by opposition factions as well as by government forces and groups affiliated with them, such as the shabbiha (pro-government militia)," Colville said.
London-based Amnesty International called the video "shocking" and said it may depict a "potential war crime in progress."
On Friday, the Observatory condemned the killing of nearly a dozen soldiers at the Hmeisho checkpoint. Amnesty released a highly critical statement.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, asked how rebels can demand rights at a time when they violate such rights.
More than 36,000 people have died in the 19-month conflict, according to the Observatory.