Human Rights Watch documented the summary executions of civilians and opposition fighters by Syrian security forces acting alone or with pro-government militia -- and said hundreds may have been executed -- in the governorates of Idlib and Homs since December, the human rights group said in a news release.
"In a desperate attempt to crush the uprising, Syrian forces have executed people in cold blood, civilians and opposition fighters alike," Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the news release. "They are doing it in broad daylight and in front of witnesses, evidently not concerned about any accountability for their crimes."
The 25-page report said 85 of those executed in March were Syrian residents who did not take part in the fighting, including women and children.
"In these cases, Syrian security forces, operating alone or together with pro-government shabeeha militias, captured and executed people who were trying to escape as the army took over their towns, shot or stabbed people in their homes as they entered the captured towns or executed detained residents while conducting house searches," the report stated.
The report also detailed executions of 16 opposition fighters it said Syrian forces shot point blank after they had been captured or wounded and were no longer fighting.
HRW noted international law forbids summary and extrajudicial executions, including deliberately killing soldiers who have surrendered or been injured or captured.
The human rights group called on the U.N. Security Council to ensure the peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan would include means to document executions.