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UN outlines Syria violations

September 11, 2013

The United Nations commission investigating human rights violations in Syria has issued its latest report. It concluded that forces on both sides of the conflict have committed attrocities.

A Free Syrian Army fighter stands near a damaged military tank that belonged to the forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad after they seized it, in Aleppo's town of Khanasir August 29, 2013. Rebel forces took control of a strategic town in northern Syria on Monday, killing more than 50 pro-government fighters and cutting off government forces' only supply route out of the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Image: Reuters

The UN Human Rights Council issued an updated version of the findings from the independent international commission of inquiry on Syria on Tuesday. The report listed a number of human right violations committed by both the rebels who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the regime forces who are loyal to him.

"Government and pro-government forces have continued to conduct widespread attacks on the civilian population, committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance as crimes against humanity," the report read. "They have laid siege to neighborhoods and subjected them to indiscriminate shelling."

According to the report, the anti-government Syrian rebels "have committed war crimes, including murder, execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking and attacking protected objects." The rebels, along with armed Kurdish groups, have also recruited and used child soldiers in hostilities, the report said.

The commission also said the Syrian regime was responsible for eight massacres since the beginning of the year, while the rebels were responsible for one.

Chemical weapons report soon

The report reflected the findings of investigations from May 15 to July 15 of this year. It does not include any findings about the alleged use of chemical weapons that occurred in August. A report from UN inspectors on that incident is expected soon.

The United States and France are among those in the international community who are most convinced that Assad used chemical weapons in an attack on civilians on August 21.

"France will remain, in permanent contact with its partners, mobilized to punish the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and to deter them from using them again," said French President Francois Hollande in a statement on Wednesday after meeting with military officials in Paris.

"If we all fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons," said US President Barack Obama during a televised address on Tuesday in Washington.

Room for a political solution

However, both Hollande and Obama have said they are open to a Russian proposal to push Syria to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control in order to avert a US strike.

Obama has asked Congress to delay a planned vote on legislative approval for military action in Syria in order to give Russia's proposal a chance.

Obama address on syria

Syria's acceptance of the plan triggered diplomatic wrangling at the UN Security Council over the wording of a resolution on the proposal.

An initial resolution, drafted by France, would demand that Syria make a complete declaration of its weapons program within 15 days and immediately open all related sites to UN inspectors or face "very severe consequences" for non-compliance. It would also lay the blame for the August 21 attacks at the feet of the Assad regime, one of several stipulations deemed "unacceptable" by Russia, a Syrian ally.

The commission investigating the human rights violations in Syria said in its report Wednesday "there is no military solution to this conflict" and called for a political solution to be pursued by the international community.

mz/kms (AP, AFP)