Syrian killings on video appear to be war crime, U.N. says

GENEVA Fri Nov 2, 2012 7:06am EDT

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GENEVA (Reuters) - A video appearing to show Syrian rebels killing soldiers who had surrendered must be verified but appears to constitute a war crime that should be prosecuted, the United Nations human rights office said on Friday.

"Like other videos of this sort, it's difficult to verify immediately in terms of location, who's involved. We need to examine this carefully. It will be examined carefully," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

"But the allegations are that these were soldiers who were no longer combatants. And therefore, at this point it looks very likely that this is a war crime, another one," he said.

Anti-government rebels killed 28 soldiers on Thursday in attacks on three army checkpoints around Saraqeb, a town on Syria's main north-south highway, a monitoring group said.

Some of the dead were shot after they had surrendered, according to video footage. Rebels berated them, calling them "Assad's Dogs", before firing round after round into their bodies as they lay on the ground.

"Unfortunately, this could be just the latest in a string of documented summary executions by opposition factions as well as by government forces and groups affiliated with them, such as the shabbiha (pro-government militia)," Colville said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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