Syrian war crime suspects identified

Children remove trash blocking the drains in the Al Inzarat district in Aleppo. Photograph: Reuters

Children remove trash blocking the drains in the Al Inzarat district in Aleppo. Photograph: Reuters


Syrians in "leadership positions" who may be responsible for war crimes have been identified, along with units accused of perpetrating them, United Nations investigators said today.

Both government forces and armed rebels are committing war crimes, including killings and torture, spreading terror among civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict, they said.

The investigators' latest report, covering the six months to mid-January, was based on 445 interviews conducted abroad with victims and witnesses, as they have not been allowed into Syria.

The independent team, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, called on the UN Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability" for grave violations, possibly by referring the violators to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

"The ICC is the appropriate institution for the fight against impunity in Syria. As an established, broadly supported structure, it could immediately initiate investigations against authors of serious crimes in Syria," the 131-page report said.

It added: "Individuals may also bear criminal responsibility for perpetuating the crimes identified in the present report. Where possible, individuals in leadership positions who may be responsible were identified alongside those who physically carried out the acts."

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