HRW slams Syria rebels for ‘human shields’

Human Rights Watch accuses Syrian rebel groups of war crimes after they placed hostages including civilians in cages as “human shields” in order to avert government strikes.

Videos that were  posted over the weekend showed dozens of captives in cages being transported to different parts of the region outside Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that it is the powerful Jaish al-Islam group that had placed the cages in public squares to deter government bombing.
Human Rights Watch said the practice “constitutes hostage-taking and an outrage against their personal dignity, which are both war crimes.”
“Nothing can justify caging people and intentionally putting them in harm’s way, even if the purpose is to stop indiscriminate government attacks,” said HRW deputy Middle East director Nadim Houry.

“Ending Syria’s downward spiral requires international backers of armed groups as well as the government to make protecting civilians a top priority.”

The rights group noted that a similar practice was reported in September, in two government-held Shiite towns under rebel siege in Idlib province.