Assad army wipes rebel areas 'off face of map'
"These unlawful demolitions are the latest additions to a long list of crimes committed by the Syrian government," said Ole Solvang, HRW's emergencies researcher.
Using satellite imagery, the group said that it estimated a total area of at least 345 acres (140 hectares) had been razed.
Many of the buildings demolished were several storeys high, resulting in thousands of people losing their homes.
One such neighbourhood to be razed was Masha al-Arbaeen in Hama.
HRW said the areas affected all appeared to be opposition strongholds, and said there was little evidence to back government claims that the demolitions were part of urban planning efforts.
A restaurant owner in the Qabun district in north-east Damascus told HRW that he was forced to leave the scene of a demolition and was threatened with detention.
"Before my eyes, all of my family's hard work was destroyed in one second," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)