Shoot to kill: Syrian commanders named

A number of Syrian commanders have been explicitly named and shamed in new report on the crackdown that’s taken place in the country.

The 88-page report, “‘By All Means Necessary!’: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” documents interviews with more than 60 Syrian army defectors, and names 74 commanders of the security and intelligence forces, that the report alleges have been involved in torture, killings and unlawful arrests during 2011.

Anna Neistat, associate director for emergencies at Human Rights Watch, and one of the authors of the report, said:

Defectors gave us names, ranks, and positions of those who gave the orders to shoot and kill, and each and every official named in this report, up to the very highest levels of the Syrian government, should answer for their crimes against the Syrian people…

The Security Council should ensure accountability by referring Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The report suggests that the security forces had a general directive to use ‘all means necessary’ to quell protests in the country. One defector interviewed, from the 35th Special Forces Regiment, revealed the direct orders his unit received in Deraa on April 25:

The commander of our regiment, Brigadier General Ramadan Ramadan, usually stayed behind the lines. But this time he stood in front of the whole brigade. He said, “Use heavy shooting. Nobody will ask you to explain.” Normally we are supposed to save bullets, but this time he said, “Use as many bullets as you want.” And when somebody asked what we were supposed to shoot at, he said, “At anything in front of you.” About 40 protesters were killed that day.

In a recent television interview Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied that he had ordered any sort of crackdown in the country, however the most recent figures from the UN suggest that more than 5,000 people have been killed during months of unrest.