BEIRUT — Jihadi-led rebel fighters in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and abducted more than 200 during an offensive against pro-regime villages, committing a war crime, an international human-rights group said Friday.
The Aug. 4 attacks on unarmed civilians in more than a dozen villages in the coastal province of Latakia were systematic and could even amount to a crime against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a 105-page report based on a visit to the area a month later.
Witnesses said rebels went house to house, in some cases killing entire families and in other cases killing the men and taking women and children hostage. The villagers belong to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam which forms the backbone of President Bashar Assad's regime — and which Sunni Muslim extremists consider heretics.
U.N. war crimes investigators have accused both sides in Syria's civil war, now in its third year, of wrongdoing, though they said earlier this year that the scale and intensity of rebel abuses hasn't reached that of the regime.