Worsening Brutality in Syria’s War : U.N. report


syrian regime barrel bomb

Syria’s warring parties are using ever more brutal tactics, including sieges, starvation and barrel bombs causing mass civilian casualties, a United Nations panel said on Wednesday, pinning some responsibility for the escalating violence on world powers that have failed to act.

Despite evidence of war crimes, members of the United Nations Security Council are “failing their responsibility to promote international peace and security by fighting impunity in Syria,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the four-member panel, told reporters in Geneva. “We think accountability, fighting impunity will be a contribution to halt the crimes and violations that occur in Syria.”

Three years into Syria’s civil war, fighting has widened in scope and intensity as the warring factions seek to strengthen their bargaining positions ahead of the next session of the now-stalled Geneva peace process, with both sides increasingly dependent on foreign fighters, the panel said in its seventh report to the Human Rights Council.

Sieges and bombardment of civilian areas by both sides, but mainly by government forces, are causing mass civilian casualties and starvation, the report said, and hospitals, medical workers and humanitarian workers have been deliberately targeted.

Government and allied forces and armed opposition groups continue to commit war crimes like murder, hostage-taking, torture, rape and sexual violence, and using children for fighting, the panel said, documenting the abuses in gruesome detail, but “the warring parties do not fear being held accountable for their acts.”

The panel, which was set up in September 2011, has consistently called for the Syrian government to be referred to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution, but that referral can be made only by the Security Council, where major powers are backing opposing sides in the conflict.

The panel said the failure of the Security Council to take action on grave violations of human rights had opened space for the proliferation of actors in Syria’s conflict, “contributing to the radicalization and escalation of violence.” It concludes, “The Security Council bears this responsibility.”

To support eventual accountability, the panel is submitting a fourth list of perpetrators of human rights abuses to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, Mr. Pinheiro said.

The panel and its team of investigators, denied government permission to visit Syria, said they based the report on 563 interviews with Syrians who had fled to neighboring countries, and on telephone conversations with people inside the country.

The panel said the government had regained control of several strategic areas through the use of heavy weapons, foreign fighters from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Iraqi militias, “particularly in critical operations,” but had failed to regain control of rural areas.

The government’s use of barrel bombs, which are relatively cheap and can be dropped by transport helicopters, has increased markedly in the last few months, according to the report, which said the aerial bombardment of opposition-controlled Aleppo had been “prosecuted with shocking ferocity.”

Opposition groups, increasingly fighting among themselves, have also shelled civilian areas but have increasingly adopted “asymmetric warfare,” including suicide bombings, car bombs, improvised explosive devices and land mines that may have been aimed at military targets but caused heavy civilian casualties.

Focusing on events from July to January, the panel found evidence that chemical weapons, mainly sarin gas, had been used on multiple occasions, citing the Aug. 21 attack on Ghouta, a suburb of the capital, Damascus, and two other attacks in early 2013.

Mr. Pinheiro said the panel had heard of 15 to 20 attacks with chemical weapons, but given the lack of access to Syria, the evidence was not sufficient to allow investigators to identify the perpetrators.

As a previous United Nations investigation noted, the panel said that whoever conducted the Ghouta attack had had access to the Syrian Army’s stockpile of chemical weapons as well as the expertise and equipment to manipulate large quantities of chemical agents.

Investigators described a “sniper campaign” by government forces in the northern city of Aleppo targeting civilians, including women and children. In October, doctors treated six pregnant women shot in the abdomen and, on one day alone, six men who had been shot in the groin.

The report, due to be presented to the Human Rights Council in mid-March, also implicates both sides in widespread use of torture. The panel identifies s a number of government security and intelligence agencies that are said to routinely torture detainees, and for the first time specifies opposition groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Nusra Front, which it says committed crimes against humanity against prisoners in the town of Raqqa.

“The rise in torture and the inhumane treatment of the civilian population in areas controlled by ISIS and affiliated groups provide reasonable grounds to believe that such groups promote the widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population,” the report said.

NY Times

Photo: Barrel bombs have been dropped by Syrian army helicopters on residential areas in Aleppo region



15 responses to “Worsening Brutality in Syria’s War : U.N. report”

  1. Super_habib Avatar

    This war has gone on too long and I think the idea of unified Syrian nation won’t be practical. I’m in favor of splitting the nation by sect, Assad (despite deserving death) is clearly well regarded by his Shiite followers so of they want him they could have him.

  2. Fauzia45 Avatar

    True,^The Security Council bears this responsibility^!!It cannot function this way this ^veto ^!!

  3. Drug Dealer Avatar
    Drug Dealer

    The Security Council know exactly what they are doing….. Islam is the fastest growing religion; therefore they see this as threat because there will be more physcos more jihadist etc. So what better way to decrease the musilim population around the world; let them all kill each other in Syria. Does the Security Council have any musilim countries on it??? As Christians from the Middle East we are persecuted by musilims so we should be supporting the current stance of the Security Council, I do. Let the musilims kill each other; let this war drag on for another 10-15 years; it will be better for the Christians world wide.

    1. Like I keep telling you dopey, Stop getting high on you own supply. What don’t you talk about how the Christians persecuted not only the Muslims and any other religion that didn’t have the same belief as themselves. Every religion has done wrong whether be past or present.

      1. The real lebanese Avatar
        The real lebanese

        Hmmm, cough cough Geagea.

      2. Drug Dealer Avatar
        Drug Dealer

        Really…. Unlike Islam, Christians didn’t kill people if they didn’t convert.

    2. The real lebanese Avatar
      The real lebanese

      Sorry bud, but you have the idea of the Christians in the middle east all wrong. The longer the war goes on, the more Christians will die and leave the holy land. Just look at the Lebanese Civil war and how it changed the demographics of the country.

      1. Drug Dealer Avatar
        Drug Dealer

        This war is totally different. Lebanese civil was Christian against Musilim most of the time. Where this war is musilim against musilim. Don’t get me wrong the Christians will get caught in the middle but the Death rate of musilims will be much much higher.

        1. The real lebanese Avatar
          The real lebanese

          This is true. However I feel as if it would be better for Arab Christians in Syria and the ME in general to stay in the ME. Our numbers are declining because of wars, primarily between Sunnis and Shiites, and causing them to leave their countries behind. Once you get settled somewhere else you don’t want to move back, especially in the ME where it can be so unstable. The sooner the conflict is over, the more Christians there will be in Syria.

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Perhaps, Real, at this point you might just throw out that ‘religious’ stuff, and say; ‘Middle East Lifestyle’ VS ‘Western Lifestyle’ …. for better generality of descriptives. Then we could compare various ‘hot spots’ more accurately.

          2. dateam Avatar

            I agree that it benefits certain western countries to have the christians leave and have the muslims fight each other but i dont agree that christians have fled because of sunni shiite wars….Its neither sunni nor shiite…its the wahhabi, takfiri mentality that has all of a sudden exploded onto the seen at the same time as the so called arab spring…in iraq its the salafists killing everyone unlike them, in syria, in nigeria, kenya, pakistan, mali, sudan, egypt, these countries dont have sunni shiite conflicts except syria and iraq.

      2. dateam Avatar

        It changed the demographics of the country because our beloved christian leaders sold us out…in what was supposed to be a fight against the palestinians turned into a fight for power amongst themselves…How many christians killed christians during the civil war. Christians left because they were disallusioned with their leaders….20 years of war for what? For the saudis to sit them down pay them all out make them zaems and in the end they gave palestinians a home in our country…..So again we are made to believe its all about religion and a sect and a family and a village and a goat…..we have allowed ourselves to be tools to carry the agendas of those that want exactly what is happening to happen. You never question who is benefitting from this?

  4. If this is what Arabs are doing to each other, what a shame it is. Where’s the love between Abraham’s children?

  5. The Syrian Regime is conducting a scorch earth policy to destroy everything and everyone outside of the coastal-capital area that it deems Aliwi territory in Syria. All Sunni majority territory is being made into a ruined unlivable wasteland by regime tactics.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      And unfortunately, the part they ‘hang onto’ is beside Lebanon … used to be good fishing area north – now they kill children fishing….

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