(Photo: Reuters/Omar Abu Bakr)
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic denounced the Security Council, which includes the U.S., for failing to take action and allowing the ongoing slaughter in the Syria civil war to continue.
"States that exert influence on the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic must act to ensure that these parties comply with the rules of international humanitarian law," human rights investigators said in a report released Wednesday. "The Security Council bears responsibility for allowing the warring parties to violate these rules with impunity."
The U.N. Security Council, which has the responsibility to maintain international peace and security, is composed of five permanent members – the U.S., the U.K., China, France, and Russia – as well as 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year periods.
Major U.N. peace talks in Geneva ended in failure in February, with world powers unable to broker a way forward to peace between Syrian government representatives and rebel groups.
The peace talks came with hopes that the two sides would be able to come to an agreement to at least stop the fighting, in which minority groups like Christians have been caught in the fire. But at the end, U.N. and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi offered an apology to the Syrian people for failing to meet those objectives.
"I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes which were very, very high that something will happen here," Brahimi said at the time.
In its report, which is based on 563 interviews and other collected evidence from July 2013 to January 2014, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said more than 250,000 people are besieged inside the Middle Eastern country, caught in relentless shelling and bombardment, as the war between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and rebel factions seeking to take him down continues.
The nearly three-year conflict has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, with millions being forced to flee Syria, though those surviving have been denied food, medical care and other basic necessities, often being forced to choose between surrender and starvation, the commission said.
"Siege warfare is employed in a context of egregious human rights and international humanitarian law violations. The warring parties do not fear being held accountable for their acts. The scale and geographic distribution of violations perpetrated by government forces and pro-government militia, and non-State armed groups, differ among violations."
The commission accused both government forces and non-state armed groups of committing "gross violations of human rights and the war crimes of murder, hostage-taking, torture, rape and sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities and targeting civilians in sniper attacks."
It also noted that journalists, along with medical and religious personnel have been targeted, while evidence of chemical weapons use was found in multiple incidents.
The Security Council acknowledged the report by the commission on Wednesday in a news release, but has not yet offered comment.