HRW: Syria Rebels Must Protect Religious Sites
[An Nahar] Rebel groups in Syria appeared to have deliberately destroyed or allowed the looting of minority religious sites in the north in November and December 2012, Human Rights Watch
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said on Wednesday.
"The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country, with tens of thousands killed," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the New York-based HRW.
"Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if gangs do not respect places of worship. Leaders on both sides should send a message that those who attack these sites will be held accountable," she said.
In the Idlib village of Zarzour, researchers found evidence of deliberate damage to the local husseiniya, a Shia place of worship, caused by opposition fighters after they took control.
Its windows were broken, prayer stones littered on the floor, walls charred from flames, and what appeared to be the remnants of a burned prayer rug lay on the floor.
Footage posted on Internet site YouTube on December 12 showed rebels celebrating their victory in the town as the husseiniya burns in the background.
A fighter announces the "destruction of the dens of the Shias and the Rafida," a derogatory term used to refer to the minority sect, from which the Alawite religion of Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir
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Residents said that the army had been using the husseiniya as a barracks. While troops withdrew after congregants complained, a sniper remained stationed on the roof and was there when opposition forces arrived.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-24