An Al-Qaeda faction in Syria is committing appalling atrocities in areas under its control, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday that urged the group to end its “reign of abuse.”
by Stewart Bell | December 18, 2013 7:01 PM ET NATIONAL POST
Amnesty called on Turkey and the Gulf States to cut off the supply of arms and money to the hardline group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which holds key parts of northern Syria.
As it has captured territory, the ISIS has brutally imposed its militant version of Islamic law on Syrians — abducting, torturing and killing locals for everything from drinking alcohol to opposing Islamist rule.
“After years in which they were prey to the brutality of the al-Assad regime, the people of al-Raqqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by ISIS,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East director.
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Former ISIS detainees told Amnesty they had witnessed “a shocking catalogue of abuses” including the flogging of children, electric shock torture, public executions and phony trials conducted by Sharia judges appointed by the faction.
The human rights organization said the conduct amounted to war crimes and asked the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
Foreign Fighters in Syria
United States (17-60)
Saudi Arabia (386-1,016)
Source: International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation
Almost three years into the Syrian conflict, armed Islamist factions that are aligned with Al-Qaeda and composed largely of foreign jihadists have exploited the tragedy to spread their intolerant extremist ideology.
Groups like ISIS have introduced tactics such as suicide bombings to the war, clashed with mainstream opposition forces and imported Al-Qaeda ideology, making the conflict an increasingly sectarian clash.
Amnesty said the ISIS had targeted those suspected of everyday crimes as well as those accused of supposed religious violations like alcohol consumption and sex outside of marriage.
The Islamists have also abducted activists opposed to their rule, members of rival armed groups and foreign nationals, “including journalists, staff of international organizations and religious figures,” Amnesty said.
A British think tank reported Tuesday a sharp increase in the number of foreign fighters in Syria, who now number up to 11,000. As many as 100 may be Canadians, said the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization.
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