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UN's Pinheiro: Syria in ‘Free Fall’

  • Margaret Besheer

Truth Commission member, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, speaks during annual progress report in Brasilia, Brazil, May 2013.
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.”

Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013
Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013
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.

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