GENEVA, Switzerland, July 27 (UPI) -- There is a discernible pattern to the clearing operations by Syrian forces in rebel-occupied territory, including summary executions, a U.N. official said.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Syrian forces routinely cut water and electricity to parts of the country occupied by opposition forces. This is followed by heavy shelling and then by a deployment of ground forces that go door-to-door summarily executing those suspected of fighting with rebels.
"I have been receiving as-yet-unconfirmed reports of atrocities, including extra-judicial killings and shooting of civilians by snipers, that took place during the recent fighting in various suburbs of Damascus," she said.
Recently, several ministers in the Syrian government were killed in a suicide attack in Damascus. Fighting has been reported in the capital city and authorities have expressed concern about a possible massacre in the industrial city of Aleppo.
"All parties, including the government and opposition forces, must ensure that they distinguish between civilian and military targets," she said.
She added that civilians, under the terms of international law, are to be given an opportunity to leave areas designated for military operations ahead of time. Syrian adherence to that provision, she said, hasn't been consistent.