UN Accuses Both Sides: ‘Islamic State’, Syrian Government Commit Crimes Of Humanity

According to UN investigators, the Islamic State has committed crimes against humanity, including attacks on civilians and regular public executions.  

The independent United Nations commission on Syrian war crimes said in a report released Wednesday that “Islamic State” (I.S. or ISIS) forces in the north and northeast of Syria regularly carry out public executions, amputations and mock crucifixions.

“Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in al Raqqa and ISIS-controlled areas of Aleppo governorate (province),” the report said. Children have been present at the executions and bodies are placed on display for several days in order to serve as a warning to local residents.

IS is also recruiting and training children as young as 10, with teenagers used in combat and suicide-bombing missions, the report said.

“ISIS poses a clear and present danger to civilians, and particularly minorities, under its control in Syria and in the region,” Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the panel, said in a statement.

ISIS recently sparked outrage with the release of a video of the beheading of journalist James Foley. 

Chemical weapons used

In the report, investigators also said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity through massacres and systematic murder, torture and disappearances.

The report also said the government used the chemical agent chlorine on civilian areas on eight different occasions in April.

Syria has given up its declared stockpiles of chemical weapons as part of an international deal, but chlorine, a common industrial agent, was not specified in that deal.

Calls for accountability

The four-member commission includes Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and former UN crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte.

The members have made confidential lists of suspects whom they believe should face international justice. In the report, the investigators reiterated their call for the UN Security Council to refer violations in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Accountability must be part of any future settlement, if it is to result in an enduring peace. Too many lives have been lost and shattered,” Pinheiro said.

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