Rights group accuses Syria government of war crime

BEIRUT (AP) — The international rights group Amnesty International is accusing the Syrian government of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity by blockading and starving civilians in the southern Damascus neighborhood of Yarmouk.

Amnesty says it estimates 200 people in Yarmouk have died of hunger-related illnesses since a yearlong blockade on the area was tightened in July by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In a report released Monday, Amnesty said its research showed that 128 people starved to death.

Assad-loyal forces began blocking the Palestinian-dominated area to flush out rebels and to punish civilians for harboring them, in a policy the government has used across Syria since the uprising began three years ago.

Efforts to reach a truce in Yarmouk allowing food deliveries to starving residents have repeatedly collapsed.