Human Rights Watch today accused the Syrian government of committing crimes against humanity during its crackdown on the restive central region of Homs. The rights group called on the Arab League, scheduled to meet in Cairo tomorrow, to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization.
“The systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, indicate that crimes against humanity have been committed,” Human Rights Watch said in their 63-page report released today.
The Associated Press reported that “November is shaping up to be the bloodiest month yet in Syria’s 8-month-old uprising,” with more than 250 civilians killed in the past 11 days. The United Nations estimated that more than 3,500 people have been killed since the beginning of the uprising in March.
Thousands of Syrians took to the streets of today, also calling on the Arab League to suspend Damascus membership. Rights activists said that at least 21 people were shot dead by security forces across the country, most of them in Homs. Four were also killed in Daraa and two in Hama.
Three teenage cousins were among the dead in Daraa. We spoke over the phone with Yousef al-Zoabi, 48, a relative of the three teenagers who said they were killed in an explosion at an olive farm in the town of Musaifra.
“They were just simple farmers, trying to bring food for their families,” he said. “They were not protesting.”
A graphic video uploaded on YouTube reportedly showed one of the teenagers killed. Hussain Ahmed al-Zoabi, 17, had his right arm cut and abdomen punctured revealing his guts.
Very few foreign journalists have been allowed into Syria. Most of the information coming out of the country has come from activists and people on the ground. We are watching social media sites where activists are uploading videos and photos events as they happen. We have collected some of this video so you can watch below. Please be aware that some of the content that follows is graphic.
(Ahmed Al Omran is a production assistant on NPR’s social media desk.)