New UN report documents Syrian atrocities
Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee the ongoing violence. (AFP/File)
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More details of Syrian atrocities, committed by government troops and by Islamic extremists, were revealed by United Nations investigators in a report Tuesday.
"I have run out of words to depict the gravity of the crimes committed inside Syria," Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. investigative panel, told the Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
Pinheiro cited the beheadings of two American journalist and a British aid worker, and noted Islamic State militants have "continued to subject scores of Syrians to the same fate in public squares in the north and east of the country. Children are encouraged to attend executions. Later they wander past corpses displayed on crucifixes in public squares."
He added IS militants massacred civilians in Syria's Homs province, killed captured soldiers in Raqqa by the thousands and reportedly killed hundreds of Sheitat tribe members in Deir al-Zour province.
Despite the atrocities committed by the rebels, Pinheiro said the Syrian government "remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily." He itemized examples of torture in government detention centers and deaths from malnutrition and insufficient air in densely packed holding centers.
He added that inaction by major powers to refer Syria to the international criminal court "nourished the violence" in Syria. Its most recent beneficiary is ISIS," a reference to the Islamic State.