AMMAN/BEIRUT — Human Rights Watch Wednesday urged Syrian authorities to end the “indiscriminate” shootings of civilians fleeing to Jordan and other neighboring countries.
“Syrian soldiers on the border with Jordan appear to be shooting indiscriminately at anyone — including civilian women and children — trying to flee from Syria,” the US-based HRW said in a statement.
Jordan is hosting more than 120,000 Syrians, of whom 20,000 are registered with the United Nations.
There are another 38,000 refugees in Turkey, 22,000 in Lebanon and 3,129 in Iraq, according to the UN refugee agency and officials in those countries.
HRW statement coincided with the United Nations report saying that violence in Syria has worsened since a ceasefire deal in April and the bloodshed appears to be taking on dangerous sectarian overtones.
Investigators say they have concluded that Syrian government troops could be behind the killing of more than 100 civilians in the village of Houla last month. The findings, which were presented to the UN’s top human rights body, could lay some of the groundwork for prosecuting alleged crimes against humanity and other abuses in Syria.
Reflecting the sense of urgency, senior diplomats said world powers are planning to meet Saturday in Geneva in an attempt to end the bloodshed, with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying they will attend.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who heads a UN panel conducting an international investigation of allegations of human rights abuses in Syria, called the country a “crime scene” and said investigators had prepare a list of names of people suspected of being responsible for crimes.
The probe into the massacre in the central Syrian village of Houla concluded that forces loyal to the government “may have been responsible” for many of the deaths.
Meanwhile, gunmen raided the headquarters of a pro-government Syrian TV station early Wednesday, killing seven employees, kidnapping others and demolishing buildings, officials said. They denounced what they called a “massacre against the freedom of the press” and held it up as an example of rebel atrocities.
Al-Ikhbariya is privately-owned but strongly supports President Assad’s regime.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group confirmed the raid and the deaths of several employees, but had no other information.
More 15,800 people have been killed since the outbreak of the Syrian revolt 15 months ago, the observatory said.
“The last week was the bloodiest week of the Syrian revolution,”
observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone, adding that 916 people were killed from June 20 through 26.
However, President Assad has ordered his cabinet to crush the anti-regime revolt. With the uprising now in its 16th month, Assad told his cabinet Tuesday that Syria was in a “real situation of war”.
“When one is in a state of war, all our policies and capabilities must be used to secure victory,” he said. — Agencies