— The chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Monday that the war-torn country is in a “free fall.” Paulo Pinheiro told the U.N. General Assembly that the international community must act “decisively” to bring the war to a close.
Pinheiro and his two colleagues have been investigating human rights abuses in Syria since August 2011. Although the Syrian government has not allowed the team inside the country, they have interviewed scores of people who have fled to neighboring countries.
Pinheiro scolded member states' inaction, saying the Syrian conflict has been a “chronicle of missed opportunities” and will not find its own peaceful solution.
“We cannot continue to recite a litany of violations and abuses to little effect either on the warring parties inside Syria or those walking along the corridors of power. It is not enough to be appalled," he said. "There is an international obligation to do what you must to bring this war to a close. This will require the international community not only to recognize, but also to demand - also to demand - a diplomatic solution.”
Pinheiro said the war remains deadlocked with both sides under the illusion that a military victory is within their reach. He chided countries that send arms to the warring sides, saying they will only prolong the suffering of the Syrian people.
He blamed the Syrian government for indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombings across the country, and he said armed opposition groups also have shelled towns resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.
He listed violations including rape, the disappearance of thousands of civilians and attacks on food supplies, noting that there have been strong overtones of sectarianism in many of the violations committed.
Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari blamed armed groups and terrorists - as well as Western governments and Arab Gulf kingdoms - for the country's conflict because they have sent arms and financial support to the rebels.
Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more than 100,000 people have been killed in the more than two-year long conflict.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad shakes hands with military personnel during his visit to a military site at Darya area on the 68th anniversary of army day, August 1, 2013.
An injured youth at a vegetable market hit by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at al-Mashhad district in Aleppo, July 31, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits on a sofa along a street in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, July 31, 2013
Syrians refugees try to enter a truck which will transport them back to their homeland at the Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, July 30, 2013.
A Syrian refugee displays sweets for sale during the month of Ramadan at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, July 30, 2013.
Syrians refugees try to enter a truck which will transport them back to their homeland at the Al-Zaatri refugee camp, Mafraq, near the border with Syria, July 30, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters take up position on the stairs of a building in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, July 23, 2013.
A man points towards a burning car, caused by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Damascus, July 23, 2013.
In this image taken from video from the Shaam News Network, fighters from the Free Syrian Army target regime forces in Aleppo, Syria, July 22, 2013.
In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, columns of smoke billow after heavy bombing, in the countryside outside of Aleppo, Syria, July 22, 2013.
Members of the Free Syrian Army are seen through smoke as they walks along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, Syria, July 22, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters take their positions in a room as they try to locate snipers in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, July 21, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters eat their iftar meal as they break fast, in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal neighborhood, July 21, 2013.