Report: Syria Adopts Shoot-on-sight Policy


YAYLADAGI, Turkey, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Syrian security forces have adopted a shoot-on-sight policy to prevent Syrians from fleeing into Turkey, activists and people who crossed the border alleged.

The accusation came as the United Nations was expected to propose the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, investigate Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime for alleged war crimes.

Syrian forces “are just shooting at anyone who gets close to the border,” an unidentified Syrian man helping refugees cross into southern Turkish refugee camps from Syria’s restive northwest told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph.

“They are going to kill everyone,” he said.

A former Syrian police officer who arrived at the Turkish border town of Yayladagi told the newspaper he just survived a security-force ambush that killed his wife and his driver.

Holding his 1-year-old daughter, the man, who said his name was Mohammed, said his wife and elderly father had rented a car to take the family from their home near the western Syrian city of Hama — a scene of intense bloodshed last week — to the Turkish border.

A few miles from their destination, their car was flagged down by a police officer, Mohammed told the Telegraph. After checking their driver’s documents, the officer waved them on.

“When we started to drive on, we saw a burnt-out car hidden in the trees and then they started shooting,” he told the newspaper. “They had given us permission to go, but it was an ambush.”

The car came to an abrupt halt and Mohammed threw himself through the door, dragging his 7-month-pregnant wife behind him, he said.

She was bleeding heavily from three gunshot wounds, he said.

“She told me to go, to make sure our daughter was safe and that I wouldn’t live if I tried to take her,” he said. “It was the hardest thing. The bullets were still coming.

“I try to tell myself she is a martyr for Syria,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed’s story is common, the Telegraph reported, citing at least four people killed Tuesday.

A man was shot and wounded Saturday as he tried to take food from Turkey across the border to families hiding in forests on the Syrian side, the newspaper said.

The U.N. Security Council was to meet Thursday to discuss the latest bloodshed, with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay expected to call on the 15-nation council to refer Assad and his regime to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution for alleged war crimes against civilians during the uprising, U.N. diplomats said late Wednesday.

Pillay, a former International Criminal Court judge, and U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos were expected to say evidence indicated the Assad regime committed serious violations of international human-rights law, the diplomats said.

The 9-year-old criminal court is designed to exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. Pillay and Amos are expected to argue a Syrian state investigation would be inadequate, the diplomats said.

The Assad regime claims it is fighting armed Islamist terrorist groups to protect the country’s stability and its citizens’ security. The alleged terrorists have killed hundreds of Syrian soldiers, police officers and security-force members, the regime claims.

Witnesses and rights groups accuse Syrian troops of firing on largely unarmed protesters and other civilians. They report more than 2,000 civilians have been killed and many more injured since the uprising began March 15. Thousands of others have been summarily arrested and detained, they say.

The U.S. State Department Wednesday said Syrian officials will be required to obtain permission from Washington before traveling outside the U.S. capitol, The Washington Post reported. The decision comes weeks after Syria imposed restrictions on the movement of U.S. diplomats in Syria.

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