Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published a report saying Syrian authorities flattened entire neighbourhoods using bulldozers and controlled explosives, apparently to punish civilians living among rebels who had already fled.
The report, released on HRW’s website, says many of the demolished buildings were apartment blocks up to eight storeys high. It shows before-and-after satellite images of the demolition.
The human rights group says the deliberate destruction violated international law. It names the districts as Masha’a al-Arbaeen and Wadi al-Jouz in the central city of Hama, and Qaboun, al-Tadamon, Barzeh, Harran al-Awamid and Mezze airport in and around the capital, Damascus.
“No one should be fooled by the government’s claim that it is undertaking urban planning in the middle of a bloody conflict,” said Ole Solvang, a Human Rights Watch researcher.
“This was collective punishment of communities suspected of supporting the rebellion,” Solvang added.
Syrian authorities could not be reached to comment on the allegations.
The report is released as Syria peace talks stagger on in Geneva. Syrian government and opposition delegations are still working on a way of evacuating civilians from Homs.
UN negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi says he refuses to give up on what is expected to be his final mission: seeking an end to Syria’s civil war.
Mosaic of video frames showing the destruction of the Tadamoun neighborhood