Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN: Syria's Warring Parties Violating International Humanitarian Law

A picture taken on March 13, 2018 shows evacuated civilians and children sitting in the yard of a school lying on the government side of the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the Eastern Ghouta enclave.

The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria is condemning the flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law by all of Syria's warring parties and calls for them to be held accountable for their crimes. The commission has presented its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Seven years into the Syrian conflict, the killing goes on with no end in sight. Commission Chair Paulo Pinheiro told the Human Rights Council the killing fields have never gone away. They have just moved.

He said now it is the turn of eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus with nearly 400,000 residents, that is under siege and being subjected to deliberate starvation and relentless bombardments.

Before, he said, it was eastern Aleppo City, Raqqa, Deir el-Zour, and Madaya that dominated the headlines as civilians were denied humanitarian assistance and killed and maimed from indiscriminate attacks.

"This recent resurgence of violence perpetuates the illusion that the solution to the conflict will come through a military victory," he said. "This illusion has been fueled by the unwillingness of influential states to enforce discipline on the warring parties and demand their serious engagement in finding a sustainable political solution."

Pinheiro is calling for an immediate end to intentional and indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations and for the delivery of food, water, medicine and other critical aid to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, especially to the suffering population in eastern Ghouta.

Pinheiro said only a political solution will end the conflict. But he warns there must be no amnesties or pardon for those responsible for gross human rights violations, war crimes or crimes against humanity in any agreement that emerges.

In his response, Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala refuted the accusations in the report, saying they were based on false sources and on sources related to terrorist organizations, such as the White Helmets, a volunteer civilian rescue group.