Of course, the reports’ findings — a dozen cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions along with six confirmed cases of torture and scores of illegal detentions — pale in comparison to the well-documented “gross violations of human rights” committed by the Syrian regime, according to a recently released U.N. report. Still, the rebels have a greater responsibility to uphold the very rights they claim to be fighting for, says Nadim Houry, HRW’s deputy Middle East director. “Time and again Syria’s opposition has told us that it is fighting against the government because of its abhorrent human-rights violations. Now is the time for the opposition to show that they really mean what they say.”

When confronted with evidence of extrajudicial executions, three opposition leaders told HRW that those who were killed deserved to be killed, and that only the worst criminals were being executed. Furthermore, other opposition leaders said they did not consider the practice of falaqa, beating the soles of the feet, to be torture “because it did not cause injuries.”