Syrian gov’t and opposition forces committing war crimes – UN

GENEVA (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations (UN) on Wednesday reported that both the Syrian Government and opposition forces have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the ongoing conflict.

According to a new report by the UN's independent panel probing abuses committed during Syria's conflict, war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, and gross violations of international human rights, including unlawful killing, attacks against civilians and acts of sexual violence, have been committed in line with State policy, with indications of the involvement at the highest levels of the Government, as well as security and armed forces.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria under a mandate from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, issued and produced the report, which presents the CoI's findings based on investigations conducted through July 20.

The report noted that the situation in the Syria has deteriorated significantly in the past six months, with armed violence spreading to new areas and active hostilities between anti-Government armed groups and Government forces and members of the Government-controlled militia known as the Shabiha.

In addition, it reported more 'brutal tactics' and new military capabilities being employed in recent months by both sides to the conflict.

However, while opposition forces also committed war crimes, including murder and torture, the CoI said in its report that their violations and abuses were not of the same gravity, frequency and scale as those committed by Government force and the Shabiha.

According to the UN, an estimated 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago in Syria.

Wednesday's report also updates earlier findings on the events that took place in the town of Houla on May 25, concluding that Government forces and Shabiha fighters were responsible for the killings there of more than 100 civilians – nearly half of whom were children.

In early June, the Human Rights Council had called for a 'special inquiry' into the Houla massacre. It also adopted a resolution condemning in the strongest terms the use of force against civilians.

In a news release issued by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Commission underlined that the lack of access to the country significantly hampered its ability to fulfill its mandate, and for that reason it continued to collect firsthand accounts of the situation on the ground from people who left the country.

Established in September last year, the CoI has conducted 1,062 interviews since February 15. Its report is scheduled to be presented at the 21st session of the Human Rights Council on September 17.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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