Both sides in Syria committing war crimes, says UN
An independent team investigating the deteriorating situation in Syria accuses both sides of committing war crimes and urges the UN Security Council to take action “to ensure accountability for grave violations” by means of referral to the International Criminal Court.
A 121-page report by UN investigators, based on 445 interviews with Syrian refugees, says: “The depth of the Syrian tragedy is poignantly reflected in the accounts of its victims.”
The team warns that the “destructive dynamics of the civil war not only have an impact on the civilian population but are also tearing apart the country’s complex social fabric, jeopardising future generations and undermining peace and security in the entire region.
“The conflict has become increasingly sectarian, with the conduct of the parties becoming significantly more radicalised and militarised.”
The involvement of foreign fighters and criminals and the proliferation of weapons have escalated warfare.
Government forces and loyalist militia have committed “the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts”, according to the report. The military has also bombarded and shelled urban areas and in some cases “indiscriminate shelling” was followed by mass killings.
Anti-government armed groups are said to have committed murder, torture, hostage-taking, attacking civilian areas, and positioning “military objectives inside civilian areas”.
However, violations and abuses committed by these groups did not “reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia”, the investigators state.
War crimes suspects
The report, the fifth since the mission took up its task in 2011, will be discussed by the UN Human Rights Council next month when member states are expected to extend its mandate.
The team, headed by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, has drawn up a list of war crimes suspects which will remain secret until handed to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay. She has said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad should be investigated for war crimes and urged immediate action by the international community, including military intervention. The report says, however: “There is no military solution to the conflict” and calls for a “sustained cessation of hostilities”.