Human rights activists have accused Syria’s armed opposition of serious human rights abuses, including torture, kidnapping and summary executions. Meanwhile, Moscow indicated it was losing patience with Damascus.
Syrian rebel leaders were urged by human rights activists on Tuesday to act to stop alleged serious abuses against members of the security forces and supporters of Assad's government.
"The Syrian government's brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of said Human Rights Watch (HRW).
"Opposition leaders should make it clear to their followers that they must not torture, kidnap, or execute under any circumstances."
The New York-based group said it had documented kidnappings, torture and executions that often had a sectarian motive. Support for Assad is believed to be particularly strong among Syria's Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Druze.
"Some of the statements collected suggest that certain armed attacks by opposition groups were motivated by anti-Shiite or anti-Alawite sentiments arising from the association of these communities with government policies," HRW said.
Videos depict 'confessions'
The group said it had reviewed at least 25 videos posted on You Tube that showed captured security force members and pro-Assad supporters appearing to make confessions under duress. In one video, a man is shown hanging from a tree with commentary claiming that he was a member of the pro-government militia, the Shabiha.
Russia on Tuesday hinted it was prepared to back a United Nations effort endorsing a plan drawn up by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, to settle the crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned it should not become an ultimatum to the Syrian government, but indicated that Moscow was growing impatient with Assad's government which, it said, had made "many mistakes."
China and Russia have both used their vetoes to block previous UN Security Council resolutions against Syria.
There was a setback for the opposition with the loss of the city of Deir al-Zor, near Iraq, on Tuesday. Rebel Free Syrian Army fighters were reported to have left the city as government troops and armored cars entered, leading to short gun battles.
rc/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)