Syrian security forces may have committed crimes against humanity when they confronted protesters in the town of Tel Kelakh in May, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The organization called on the United Nations to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. It said nine people died in custody after being captured during the operation in the town, close to the Lebanese border.
"Amnesty International considers that crimes committed in Tel Kalakh amount to crimes against humanity as they appear to be part of a widespread, as well as systematic, attack against the civilian population," it said.
In what it described as a "devastating security operation," scores of men were arbitrarily arrested and tortured, including people already wounded, in response to largely peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad, it said.
"The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tel Kelakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
"Most of the crimes described in this report would fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the U.N. Security Council must first refer the situation in Syria to the Court's Prosecutor."