Syrian regime forces stand near buses while rebel fighters pray as they wait at the entrance of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, March 22, 2018, after a deal was struck with the rebels in the area to evacuate the town.
Syrian regime forces stand near buses while rebel fighters pray as they wait at the entrance of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, March 22, 2018, after a deal was struck with the rebels in the area to evacuate the town.

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria Wednesday urged the Security Council to press the Syrian government to provide information to families about the fate of those missing or detained during the seven-year war.

Following a closed-door informal meeting with council members, the commission chairman said it was crucial to push the government to give a full account after it began in May to release death notifications.

“The issues of the detainees and the disappeared should not be dealt after peace, but now is the time to consider this,” said Paulo Pinheiro, who heads the commission set up to investigate human rights violations in the war.

In May, the military police and army provided for the first time information to government civil registry offices on the deceased, allowing families to finally learn the fate of their loved ones.

“The state is beginning to put out that information, but little else,” commission member Hanny Megally said. “The families have a right to know what happened, where the bodies are, to get information about them.”

An international independent body must be given access to all places of detention to confirm who is still alive in detention, he added.

The commission hopes council members including Russia, Syria’s ally, can encourage the Damascus government to take steps to address demands from the families of lost or missing loved ones.

Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

U.N.-led diplomatic efforts to end the war have stalled, but Russia, Iran and Turkey are spearheading a separate drive to stabilize the country.