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De syriske opprørerne risikerer å miste det moralske overtaket hvis det blir flere overgrep av den typen som ble kjent onsdag – summarisk henrettelse av fanger.

Det var essensen av kritikk som lød fra flere hold torsdag.

Russland og Kina vil få en lettere jobb med å forsvare Assad-regimet, hvis det kan dokumenteres at opprørerne benytter samme metoder.

Hittil er det regimet som står for langt de fleste overgrep og forbrytelser, men en AP-reporter som tilbrakte juni i det opprørkontrollerte nord, forteller at mye er under endring.

An Associated Press reporter who spent two weeks with rebels in northern Syria in June found little evidence of rebel attacks on civilians, but the rebels were often merciless with regime troops and Assad loyalists. Some boasted freely about sending captured soldiers or loyalists deemed as collaborators “to Cyprus,” which the rebels use as a euphemism for execution usually by gunfire.

Human rights groups have long documented reports of extrajudicial executions by people on both sides of the conflict, along with kidnappings, detentions, and widespread torture. As they gain confidence and more territory, however, rebel fighters appear to be increasingly resorting to these tactics.

In another video, posted Thursday, a group of about nine prisoners stand against a wall with their hands behind their backs, captured by rebels after they seized a police station in the embattled city of Aleppo. A rebel fighter says they would be put on trial in front of a Sharia (religious) court made up of “honorable judges.”

The AP reporter counted almost two dozen rebel groups operating with little or no clear command structure. Some were more brutal than others. And there are doubtless countless of others who answer to nobody but themselves.

Og tilfellene av overgrep er blitt flere i takt med at opprørerne vinner stadig større områder.

Konfliktens sekteriske karakter er blitt skjerpet. Irakiske shia-flyktninger som nå flykter tilbake til hjemlandet, forteller om angrep som virker å bunne i at de er shiaer.

Many Iraqi Shiites, streaming back to their homeland in the past month to escape the war in Syria, reported a rash of attacks against their community, apparently by Sunni rebel gunmen.

In July alone, 23 Iraqi Shiites have been killed in Syria, some of them beheaded, according to the Washington-based Shiite Rights Watch. In one gruesome case, the U.N. said an Iraqi family of seven was killed at gunpoint in their Damascus apartment.

The motives for the attacks on Iraqis are unclear. They may be revenge against any Iraqi because the Shiite-led Iraqi government is seen as siding with Assad. They may also be fueled by sectarian hatreds, with resentment of Syria’s Alawite leadership flaring into anger at Shiites.

Thomas L. Friedman mener at regimet helt bevisst angrep sunnier for å fremprovosere en sekterisk konflikt, dvs. hvor gruppe står mot gruppe.

Al Qaida har hatt dette som taktikk i Irak, og skal senere ha oppsummert at det kostet dem mye sympati. Men nå er angrepene i gang igjen i Irak, og de er rettet mot shiaer. Kanskje man drømmer om en sekterisk konflikt i begge land?

In a nod to criticism of rebel brutality, Abdel Razzaq Tlass, leader of the Farouk Brigade of the Free Syrian Army in central Homs province, pledged that his group would comply with Geneva conventions and treat captives according to international law.

“We are revolting against a barbarous regime that always tortured and treated detainees and arrestees in brutal ways that led to the death of many,” Tlass said. “That’s why we can never adopt the behavior of that very entity that we are revolting against.”

Tlass made his pledge in a video that was posted on Monday — a day before the Aleppo executions.

Syrian rebels risk losing moral high ground to Assad as video shows summary executions