America’s Support for Syrian Rebel War Crimes

John Glaser, September 17, 2012

The fact that the Syrian rebels have committed war crimes has been found and publicized repeatedly for anyone willing to hear it. In May, a United Nations investigation found that rebel militias were committing atrocities along with Syrian government forces. Again in August, the UN “identified both parties as guilty of war crimes.” Human rights organizations like Amnesty International, along with good, hard reporting have revealed a systematic practice among the rebel groups of murder, torture, and brutal massacres.

Now again, Human Rights Watch exposes practices of torture and executions by Syrian rebel forces and urges investigations and pressure for these crimes to stop:

Armed opposition groups have subjected detainees to ill-treatment and torture and committed extrajudicial or summary executions in Aleppo, Latakia, and Idlib, Human Rights Watch said today following a visit to Aleppo governorate. Torture and extrajudicial or summary executions of detainees in the context of an armed conflict are war crimes, and may constitute crimes against humanity if they are widespread and systematic.

Opposition leaders told Human Rights Watch that they will respect human rights and that they have taken measures to curb the abuses, but Human Rights Watch expressed serious concern about statements by some opposition leaders indicating that they tolerate, or even condone, extrajudicial and summary executions. When confronted with evidence of extrajudicial executions, three opposition leaders told Human Rights Watch that those who killed deserved to be killed, and that only the worst criminals were being executed.

Yet, US policy remains aiding and abetting the Syrian rebels. As Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said, “Those assisting the Syrian opposition have a particular responsibility to condemn abuses.”

Actually, that has already occurred. In early August, White House spokesman Jay Carney was forced to condemn such acts when asked about them. “We strongly condemn summary executions by either side in Syria. We condemn actions like that,” he said, displaying no intention by the administration to try to put a stop to it or to pull support from such unscrupulous groups. Public condemnations are an easy public relations strategy of deflecting responsibilities for the crimes the US supports.

To reiterate, the US is working with allies in the Arab Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to send the Syrian rebels weapons, intelligence, and other equipment. Our NATO ally Turkey is harboring and even training members of the Free Syrian Army, as our military and intelligence officials are stationed on the Turkish-Syrian border to aid the rebels. It is widely known and even officially acknowledged that the Syrian rebels have a large and growing contingent of al-Qaeda fighters in their ranks. Rather than deter US funding, this has merely prompted the Obama administration to claim, incredibly, that they’re going through a vetting process to ensure aid doesn’t reach the al-Qaeda-linked rebels. But the process is made up of untrustworthy, third-party sources and intelligence officials have recently told the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the truth is that the US doesn’t know who is getting the money and weapons.

And anyways, it would seem, from reports like this one from Human Rights Watch, that even rebels that don’t boast membership in al-Qaeda are committing serious crimes. US policy in this regard is both immoral and strategically bankrupt.




23 Responses to “America’s Support for Syrian Rebel War Crimes”

  1. And what happens if the U.S. suceeds and the crazy f's finally get in power? No improvement in human rights I'm thinking, not when they are already murdering and torturing without even having real power, in fact things can very well get worse.

  2. And when the islamic radicals come to power there’s a ready made excuse to intervene again. The only question is when the dollar breaks from imperial overstretch.

  3. “When confronted with evidence of extrajudicial executions, three opposition leaders told Human Rights Watch that those who killed deserved to be killed, and that only the worst criminals were being executed.”

    So, basically the same as our drone policy. Placing human life, and the decision whether or not to extinguish it, on a continuum is not simply a step on the slippery slope; it IS the slippery slope.

  4. [...] ties to al-Qaeda. The Obama administration has chosen to support Syria’s rebels, despite the war crimes they’ve committed and their nefarious ties to jihadists, by sending non-lethal aid and facilitating the delivery of [...]

  5. ccaney

  6. [...] http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/09/17/americas-support-for-syrian-rebel-war-crimes/ [...]

  7. That has aways been america`s policy"GOD BLESS AMERICA"

  8. Human rights groups can deplore the Syrian insurgent's use of extrajudicial killing of captured persons, but it is the USA and Israel that have become the experts in this field. The right to kill others has become the priviledge of just a few nations, and you'd better listen to what they say or you will be blown away. Except for Israel, these killing nations have claimed to be somewhat "Christian".

  9. America do not want peace in Syria, they pretend that they are after peace, the regime in Syria keep asking the rebels to lay down the weapons and start serious negotiation to reach solutions for better Syria, but America never care about human lives anywhere in the world, most important thing to them is serving and protecting Israel regardless

  10. A repeat of Ben-Ghazi. The late Ambassador Stevens hated Qaddafi and played a major role in helping to overthrow him. Some of his assassins, I'll wager, we're cadres of those who benefited from his actions. No good deed goes unpunished.

  11. [...] ARTICLE BY JOHN GLASER @ ANTIWAR Share this:TwitterFacebookRedditDiggStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, USA Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback [...]

  12. SNIP…"Three opposition leaders told Human Rights Watch that those who killed deserved to be killed, and that only the worst criminals were being executed."

    OH! So that settles it. Only the WORST are being executed. So say the executioners. Tsk Tsk

  13. Not supported by me and not in my name!

  14. [...] rebels that don’t boast membership in al Qaeda are committing serious crimes,” says John Glaser at Antiwar. That means that U.S. policy, which supports the rebels, “is both immoral and strategically [...]

  15. Syria is fighting for its survival against a foreign invasion and a terrorist war planned, supplied and armed, and funded by the U.S., NATO (including Turkey), Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and the level of terrorism and brutality in that war is a foreseeable consequence of the terrorism we’ve sponsored.

    This is not new. America's own "exceptionalist" history is strewn with this type of brutality and massacres, whether with its slave population, or its genocide of Native Americans, or during the Civil War, or in its imperialist misadventures, starting in the beginning of the 19th century with Haiti and at the end of that century with the Philippines.

    Also, take for example the Korean War. Classified documents released in 1999 under an FOIA request revealed that our military was complicit in a massacre of between 7,000 to 8,000 South Korean activists by the Korean army and constabulary, and that we not only filmed the incident while it was happening and classified the footage, but we made a propaganda film of the mass graves titled "Crime of Korea" and blamed it on the Communists, using Humphrey Bogart, of all people, to narrate it. See University of Chicago Professor Bruce Cumings' many books and articles on the Korean War, including a recent article about the incident at: http://japanfocus.org/-Bruce-Cumings/2826 and his excellent Youtube interview with the Dean of the University of Massachusetts law school at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cta5M9J3fE
    This was one of a number of massacres during the Korean war which we facilitated or where our military stood by and allowed to happen, with those killed in these numbering in the tens of thousands.

    The point being, there is nothing exceptionalist about our policies, other than their perpetuation, and our ability to cover them up with "feel good" propaganda. So, what we are responsible for happening in Syria should be no surprise.

  16. Watch that those who killed deserved to be killed, and that only the worst criminals were being executed.

  17. Now that's interesting. Who decided that they 'deserved to be killed'? When were the fair trials?
    Who or what gave the 'rebels' these God-like powers?
    Sounds like a good job if you can get it – until you face the final judgement.

  18. This is the nicest things toread

  19. Torture and extrajudicial or summary executions of detainees in the context of an armed conflict are war crimes, and may constitute crimes against humanity if they are widespread and systematic.

  20. By "Deserved to be killed", they mean they are Kufars ""infidels". Jihadists have always used this terms, and they took it from the Hadith. The ones who "deserve" to be killed did not commit crimes, but they follow a different religion than Islam. That is why they killed the only Druze reporter that they kidnapped in Homz, while the Muslim reporters did not have a scratch on them. That is also why the Christian solders never seem to be asked for ransoms but get killed, while muslim captives are asked for ransom.

  21. in a war people from both sides dies. In a war there is no hero only villians

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  23. your résumé. You do if Ambassador to Saudi Arabia means what doing the "important work" needed under current policies