DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Satellite evidence and witness statements indicate that Syrian authorities unlawfully razed thousands of residential homes, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
The 38-page report, "Razed to the Ground: Syria's Unlawful Neighborhood Demolitions in 2012 and 2013," was released Thursday and documents seven cases of large-scale demolitions in residential areas of Damascus and Hama.
Authorities used explosives and bulldozers, violating the laws of war, Human Rights Watch alleges, and the demolitions did not serve any military purpose.
The demolitions only were intended to punish civilians, the report states.
"Wiping entire neighborhoods off the map is not a legitimate tactic of war," Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, said. "These unlawful demolitions are the latest additions to a long list of crimes committed by the Syrian government."
The group is calling on the Syrian government to end demolitions that violate international law, and is asking the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
Many of the demolished structures were apartment buildings several stories high. Thousands of families lost their homes.