Syria Committing Crimes Against Humanity, Killing Children, Says UN

An independent U.N. panel investigating the human rights situation in Syria released a detailed report on Wednesday saying that President Bashar al-Assad's security forces have committed gross violations of human rights with "impunity" since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

The independent international commission with experts from the United States, Brazil, and Turkey produced a 72-page report on Wednesday following extensive research and interviews with 369 individuals who had been directly impacted by, or who personally witnessed the violence.

The commission found that within recent months, the situation in Syria has become "increasingly violent and militarized."

Crackdowns on peaceful protesters and neighborhoods suspected of supporting the opposition to President Assad's regime both continued and expanded.

Thousands of civilian lives have been lost due to indiscriminate shelling, torture, and abuse on behalf of Assad's security forces and children have not been spared in the violence. The commission found that 115 girls and 425 boys have been killed in the months since the peaceful protests against Assad's Ba'athist regime began.

On several occasions, "entire families – children and adults – were brutally murdered" in the city of Homs, which also serves as the heart of the protest movement. Children along with adults in the country faced arbitrary detention and torture while being kept in detention facilities.

Civilians were direct targets of attacks by way of orders from Syria's top military and government officials who commanded their subordinates to "shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine fire."

The commission also documented rights violations carried out by opposition forces, but maintained that a majority of the violations occurring in Syria are at the hands of Assad's security forces.

"The government has manifestly failed in its responsibility to protect the populations; its forces have committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of the State," the report reads.

"The present situation risks further radicalizing the population, deepening inter-communal tensions and eroding the fabric of society," the commission warned as it called for an "urgent, inclusive political dialogue."

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