Report accuses Syrian government of sectarian war strategy

February 21, 2017 GMT

BEIRUT (AP) — A new report by a Syria conflict monitoring group accuses the government of depopulating Sunni-majority areas in Syria’s third largest city as it fights to consolidate its power.

The report released Tuesday by the Washington-based Syria Institute raises ethical questions about what role, if any, the U.N. and other international institutions should play in rebuilding Syria while President Bashar Assad remains in power.

The report says the government’s six-year-long crackdown on revolt has disproportionately affected Sunni-majority neighborhoods in the city of Homs while sparing its Alawite residents. Assad is an Alawite.

It says supporting government-managed reconstruction efforts in Homs amounts to rewarding the government for what it says is a “sectarian” strategy of depopulation, and incentivizes further “war crimes.”

It says international institutions should hold Assad to account instead.