In recent field investigations in Syria, Amnesty International has found disturbing new evidence of grave abuses – many of which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes – committed by the Syrian army in towns and villages around Idlib, and Aleppo, as well as in the Jebel al-Zawiyah and Jebel al-Oustani areas (north-west of Hama) between late February and late May 2012. Towns and villages are being kept under virtual siege by troops who fire indiscriminately into these areas and target those moving in and out of them.
The patterns of abuses documented by Amnesty International in these areas are not isolated. Indeed, they have been widely reported elsewhere in the country, including in the attack by Syrian forces on Houla on 25 May 2012. According to the UN, 108 individuals, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed. Some were killed during the shelling of the village by Syrian security forces using heavy artillery and tanks, the use of which was confirmed by UN monitors; but most were summarily executed in cold blood by men in military clothing, believed by the residents to be state-armed militias.