Families of Syrian rebels killed in their homes, says UN

Government forces executed entire families in their homes as part of the crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, UN investigators have found.

Both President Assad's troops and opposition fighters were committing gross human rights violations despite a six-week-old ceasefire, but the security forces were responsible for most crimes documented since March, the UN report released yesterday said.

Government abuses included the heavy shelling of residential areas, executions and torture. Syrian forces routinely drew lists of wanted persons and their families before blockading and then attacking a village or neighbourhood, the report said. Children were frequently among those killed and wounded during attacks on protests and the bombardment of towns and villages. "Entire families were executed in their homes – usually the family members of those opposing the government such as the family members of Colonel Riad al-Asaad," it said, referring to the extended family of the head of the Free Syrian Army.

Rebels have executed or tortured captured soldiers and government supporters, it added. They have also abducted civilians in apparent attempts to secure prison exchanges or ransoms.

The team of investigators has not been allowed into Syria but based its report on more than 200 interviews of victims and witnesses. They confirmed 207 deaths during the two-month period.