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Report: Both Syrian government and rebels have committed acts against humanity

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a 131-page report, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry alleges possible crimes of war by both pro and anti-government supporters in Syria. While the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has come under fire for crimes against humanity, the new report alleges that both government forces -- and anti-government armed groups are guilty of massacring civilians. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Syrian war has increasingly become more sectarian and has attracted criminal elements along with increased numbers of foreign fighters.
 
The report says that while the Bashar regime carries the majority of the blame, investigators also allege that rebel groups have committed murder, torture, arbitrary arrests and hostage-taking. Not allowed to enter Syria, investigators gathered information from testimony of nearly 450 people.

Neither side offered any comment on the report. 

One of the U.N. commissioners, former war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, said atrocities have gone on far too long in Syria and that it is time for the U.N. Security Council to bring about justice. Deep splits in the council between Western members and China and Russia have blocked action.
 
"After two years, it is incredible that the Security Council does not take a decision," she said. "Justice must be imminent urgently because crimes are continuing, committed in Syria and the number of victims are increasing day to day. So, justice must be done."

Del Ponte said some of the most shocking allegations involve children. "The children are used, for example as messengers during the war and, of course, they are under high risk and many children were wounded," she said. "And, we have also some crimes committed against children - rape, sexual violence."

The commission has a confidential list of high-level political and military individuals and units it suspects to be responsible for crimes and will submit its list to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights next month. A tribunal will conduct a formal investigation which may lead to indictments.

European Union governments extended for three months sanctions against Syria. They say they would amend an arms embargo to provide "non-lethal" support and technical assistance to help protect civilians.
 
The decision was reached at an EU foreign minister meeting in Brussels, where Britain lobbied to ease the arms embargo so that rebels can gain access to military aid in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. Most foreign ministers opposed the request, with Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn stating "there is no shortage of arms in Syria."

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