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Syrian opposition groups reject UN sexual crimes accusations

April 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Syrian armed opposition groups have rejected accusations made against them by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of committing sexual violence in Syria during the period of Januar-December 2014, the Anadolu news agency reported.

In a joint statement issued Sunday, the Ahrar Al-Sham Islamist Movement, Jaysh Al-Islam Brigades and the Aknaf Bait Al-Maqdis Brigades said that: “We condemn with the strongest terms these accusations, which we consider completely and utterly untrue.”

“We condemn and reject all acts associated with sexual violence, which we believe is contrary to the teachings of Islam and its values,” the statement added.

The statement went on to say that: “Since the report did not include any details about the criteria to select witnesses and the mechanisms to meet them and evaluate their testimony, it is difficult to respond to the charges contained in the report legally, but we emphasise our desire to see and verify the evidence which the report alleges to posses.”

The statement accused the United Nations of double standards over following-up and condemning the “crimes that occur on the Syrian territory” and ignoring crimes committed by the Syrian regime.

The statement accused the international community of continuing to recognise the legitimacy of the Assad regime and to consider factions that fight against it as “terrorists”.

“Islam is innocent of all charges against the Islamic State organisation which the UN report focused on, ignoring at the same time the Syrian regime’s criminal record in this area,” it added.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday accused Syrian regime forces and six armed groups of committing rape and other acts of sexual violence in Syria during the period from January to December 2014.

The report named six armed groups that have committed acts of sexual violence in Syria, including the Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Islam Brigade, Aknaf Bait Al-Maqdis Brigades, Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis Brigades and Ahrar Al-Sham Islamist Movement.

The UN chief made specific charges against Syrian government forces, claiming that the UN possessed “documented information on the Syrian regime’s forces responsibility for committing acts of rape and sexual violence, including the Syrian Arab Army, intelligence service and pro-government forces, including national defence forces.”